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LIBRARY 
OF 

UNIVERSITY 
CALIFORNIA 
ANGELES 




THE MARCH OF FATE 



THE MARCH OF FATE. 



a novel 



BY 

B. L. FAEJEON, 

AUTHOR OP 

•' GREAT PORTER SQUARE," " TOILERS OF BABYLON,'' 
"A YOUN(x GIRL'S LIFE," "THE MYSTERY OF M. FELIX," &c. 



IiV THEEE VOLUMES. 



VOL. I. 



LONDON : 

F. V. WHITE & CO., 
31, SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 

1893. 



PRINTED BY 

KELLY AND CO. LIMITED, GATE STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, W.C, 

AND KINGSTON-ON-THAMES. 



I/. / 



CONTENTS 



ZTbe ifirst Xinft— Supplied b^ Clbx, /llMlltnoton 
of Sbepber^'s JSusb. 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. — An Invitation to Chudleigh . . 1 

II. — Miss Haldane's Birthday ... 9 

III. — A Dinner and an Interruption . . 22 

IV. — The Story of Honoria ... 31 

V. — Kachel Diprose .... 46 

VI. — The Lake of Lilies .... 59 

VII. — Off to London ..... 74 

VIII. — Simpson is Inquisitive ... 90 

IX. — Mr. Haldane Explains Himself . 104 

X. — Honoria Disappears . . . 119 

XI. — Simpson Perseveres .... 131 



Ube Secoii& Xlnl?— Supplied b^ /IDr. Barlow, 
private Jnquir^, Surrey? Street. M.C. 

Cn.\P. PAGE 

XIL— Ml!. Barlow 145 

XIIL— An Old (Story 160 

XIV. — Betrayed ...... 174 

XV. — Mr. Barlow at AVork .... 186 

XVI. — Adeline Ducroz's Diap.v . . . 191 
XVIL— The Diary Continued . . . .207 






THE MARCH OF FATE 



THE MARCH OF FATE. 



Ube 3f irst Xiuf;— SupplieO b^ /iDr. /IIMllinaton 
of Sbepberb's 3Bu6b. 



CHAPTER I. 

AN INVITATION TO CHUDLEIGH. 

It is now four years since I received a note 
from Mr. Haldane, of Manor Hall, Chudleigh 
Park, requesting me to call upon him on a 
little matter of business. Under ordinary- 
circumstances my reply would have been that 
I had given up business, and that I regretted 
I could not tear myself away from my 
garden and birds, and my pipe and news- 
paper, of all of which I am particularly fond, 
but I had special reasons for reading his 
note twice over before deciding what to do 
about it. And having^ read the letter a 

VOL. I. 1 



2 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

second time I put it in my pocket, and 
stepped into m}^ garden in a brown study. 

When a man is in a brown study, a pipe 
assists him, so I lit mine ; and motion assists 
him, so I paced the nicely gravelled paths, 
up one side and down the other, revolving 
the subject in my mind without arriving at a 
definite conclusion. It was my lark which 
brought me to a full stop. As a rule the 
notes of an imprisoned lark are apt to 
become a trifle shrill, but this is not 
the case with my bird, whose trilling is 
remarkably soft and dulcet. I suppose it is 
mere sentiment for me to say that I could 
never bring myself to eat larks in a pie, or 
roasted before the fire, which I regard as 
barbarism. Big birds I like, but these tiny 
creatures, which in my mind are associated 
with blue clouds and flowers and summer 
days, should be allowed to go free to gladden 
the world with their harmony. You will see 
by this remark that I preach what I do not 
practise ; otherwise I should open the cage of 
my lark, whose outdoor life is passed just 



AN INVITATION TO CHUDLEIGH. 3 

below my bedroom window, and who wakes 
me in the morning to remind me that the 
most beautiful part of the day is waiting for 
me. It is a summons not to be neglected, 
so up I get and work in the garden till 
George, or the little maid in our service, 
comes and tells me that breakfast is ready. 

Well, as I was saying, when I went into 
the garden the lark was piping away most 
industriously, and it continued to pipe as I 
trod the new gravel down. Suddenly it 
stopped, and the silence that ensued was so 
surprising that I stopped too, and my brown 
study came to an end ; and at that very 
moment George walked out of the house and 
joined me. 

" Hallo, George," said I. 

"Hallo, father," said he. 

Let me set things clear about mj^self and 
him — as to what kind of persons we are, I 
mean. 

As a young man I started upon the active 
duties of life in the service of Her Gracious 
Majesty ; enamoured of red coats and drums 



4 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

I enlisted for a soldier, and being wounded 
in one of our little wars in Africa was sent 
home invalided, unfit for further service. Then 
I became associated with an old friend, who 
kept a private enquiry office. It luckily 
happened about that time that a small legacy 
fell to me, and my friend proposed that I 
should invest it in his business and become a 
partner. I agreed, and we were so successful 
that I retired at the end of sixteen years with 
an income sufficient for my wants. The 
business is still carried on by my partner in 
his own name. Barlow, with a Co. tacked to 
it. My name, Millington, was never used in 
the concern. When I sailed from England 
for Africa I left a wife and child behind me, 
and when I returned my wife was dead, 
which was a severe blow, for she was a good 
creature, and we loved each other. But 
George was spared, and a great blessing the 
young fellow has been to me. 

He is a working carpenter, sober, steady, 
and loyal. A year or so before I received 
Mr. Haldane's note my lad was sent down to 



AN INVITATION TO CHUDLEIGH. 5 

Manor Hall, Cliudleigh Park, to assist in 
some alterations there. He was away three 
months, and he came back mad in love with 
a maid in the service of Mr. Haldane's only 
daughter. Miss Agnes Haldane. What had 
passed between George and pretty Eachel 
Diprose I did not exactly know, but I had 
an uncomfortable suspicion that the girl was 
playing fast and loose with him, as girls often 
do with straightforward men like my lad. 
They corresponded, letters passing between 
them about once a week, and one reason, I 
think, why I was suspicious of Eachel 
Diprose was that she wrote too good a hand 
for a lady's maid. It is an odd confession, 
but I should have been better pleased if she 
had written more like a servant who had 
received an imperfect education. 

I had, as was to be expected, a great desire 
to see the girl who, if my boy's hopes were to 
be realised, was to become my daughter-in- 
law, but she had no friends in London, and 
had, in fact, never been in the city. Conse- 
quently there was no house in which she 



6 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

could step except at an inn or a lodging- 
house, which would not be proper for a 
single young girl. It would not do to ask 
her to stop in mine, there being no elderly 
female to look after her, and George sleeping 
in it — though, for the matter of that, he 
could have got a room elsewhere ; but I 
decided that it would not do. Nor would it 
look well for me to go expressly to Chudleigh 
Park to take observations of Eachel Diprose. 
She might think I was come to spy upon her, 
for the purpose of seeing if she was good 
enough for my lad, and this was a proceeding 
which any girl of spirit would resent. 

That is how the matter stood when George 
joined me in the garden. 

"I've got something to tell you, old man," 
I said. 

" Fire away, father," he said. 

" I have received a letter from Chudleigh 
Park," I said. 

" Not from Eachel ! " he cried. 

" No, not from her. What should she 
have to write to me about ? It's from Mr. 



AN INVITATION TO CHUDLEIGH. 7 

Haldane. He wants to see me, and I've half 
a mind to go. It would give me an oppor- 
tunity of seeing Rachel." 

"I should like you to see her," said 
George. 

"Of course you would. I had some ac- 
quaintance with Mr. Haldane when I was 
partner in Barlow & Co. But it's not so 
much for his sake as for yours that I am 
inclined to go to Chudleigh Park." 

" It is very good of you, father. Yes, go." 

" George," said I, " when do you think of 
getting married ? " 

" I can"t get Eachel to name the day," 
replied George. " She declares she will 
never marry till her young mistress is happily 
settled." 

'• Isn't that rather hard on you ? " 

" I should have preferred it the other way, 
but I love her all the more for her faithful- 
ness to Miss Haldane. It isn't a bad quahty, 
is it, dad ? " 

"It is a very fine quahty. Perhaps you 
can tell me whether there is any Hkeli- 



8 THE MAKCfl OF FATE. 

hood of Miss Haldane being soon happily 
settled ? " 

" I don't quite know," said George, rue- 
fully. " Things seem a bit muddled. I've 
got an idea that Mr. Haldane wants his 
daughter to marry a gentleman she doesn't 
care for." 

" That's bad. Has she set her heart on 
someone else ? " George pursed his li]), and 
I did not press the point. " I shall start for 
Chudleigh Park to-morrow." 

" All right, father. Give Eachel my love, 
and say I'm longing to see her. 0, I may as 
well tell you that there's to be fine doings in 
the park to-morrow. It's Miss Haldane's 
birthday, and there'll be games and prizes, 
and cake and tea for the people in the village. 
You wiU be there in time for all the fun of 
the fair." 



CHAPTER 11. 

MISS haldane's eirthday. 

It would be difficult to find in all Buckinfr- 
hamsliire a more picturesque estate than 
Cliudleigh Park. I haven't the gift of 
describing scenery well, men and women 
being more in my way, but you may be able 
to draw the picture for yourself out of the 
following bald material. An enclosed park 
of a hundred acres or so, at the principal 
gate of which is the keeper's lodge, an ivy- 
covered cottage twinkling with diamonded 
windows. There are footpaths in all 
directions, and a broad carriage-road leads 
to the doors of the old Manor House, which 
is built in the Tudor style. The spaces of 
grass and velvet moss are wonderfuUy well 
kept, not the least sign of litter or disorder 
meeting the eye whichever w^ay it turns. 
Upland and lowland are dotted with fine old 



10 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

oaks, and on the east side of the park, where 
it joins Chudleigh Woods, is a broad lake 
covered with hlies. Midway across this lake 
a rustic bridge saves you the trouble of 
walking to either end, and the moment you 
are on the other side you plunge into the 
tangles of a lovely English forest. It is of 
vast extent, stretching for miles ; there are 
acres of foreign ferns, and acres of wild 
flowers, and it would be hard to say at which 
period of the year the woods are most 
beautiful. 

I think 1 have said enough to show that 
Chudleigh Park is a place in which Nature 
seems to invite a man to happiness. But 
black care finds its way into palaces as well 
as into hovels, and I am not at all sure with 
respect to this visitor, whether the poor man's 
abode hasn't the best of it. 

I had written to Mr. Haldane to say that I 
was coming down to Chudleigh Park, but as 
I did not mention the time or day of my 
arrival I felt myself free for a few hours 
when I reached the village. This enabled 



MISS HALDANE'S BIRTHDAY. 11 

me to view the festivities in which the 
inhabitants were indulging. It was a 
declared holiday all over the place, and I 
found myself in the midst of the familiar 
features of a country fair. Eather a second- 
hand exhibition, but there was no lack of 
fun. Some caravans had come, and were 
doing good businesj. The outside shows, of 
course, were the main attraction. There 
were the fat woman and the man skeleton, 
and the coil of deadly cobras ; there were 
clowns, and dwarfs, and giants, and acrobats ; 
and there was a tamer of wild beasts, with 
his foot on a tiger, holding two lions by the 
throat, and glaring at a dozen others, who, 
but for his eagle eye, would have torn him to 
pieces. In the park the entertainments were 
of a better quality. A cricket match was 
being played, serious and comic races were to 
be run, the school children were to sing and 
recite, and there were prizes for everybody it 
seemed, in money and books and articles for 
home use and decoration. Very old and 
very young people were especially catered 



12 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

for. The velvet spaces of the beautiful park 
were gay with flags and carriages and music. 
Some creditable waxworks were being ex- 
hibited ; there were two capital Punch and 
Judy shows ; here a conjuror, surrounded by 
a delighted crowd, was displaying his skill, 
and at a little distance was a tent in which a 
fortune-teller revealed the past and foretold 
the future. I had not long been in Chudleigh 
Park before I learned that Mr. Haldane was 
not merely a rich gentleman living in private 
splendour upon his income ; he was more 
king than master of the vast estate, and he 
was spoken of as a proud and haughty 
gentleman, as one who was feared rather than 
loved. What, then, was the secret of this 
open-hearted holiday-making, in which a 
sympathetic desire to make those beneath 
him happy was so conspicuous? I soon 
discovered that the credit belonged to his 
daughter Agnes. Wherever I went I heard 
nothing but praise of Miss Haldane's sweet- 
ness and goodness, and it was something in 
favour of Eachel Diprose that she should be 



MISS HALDANE'S BIRTHDAY. 13 

SO firmly attached to a mistress for whom 
every one liad a good word. 

" Bless her sweet face ! " said an old 
woman. " She's an angel from heaven ! " 
And she recounted a story of kind deeds 
which made my heart warm as I listened. 
Her story was followed by others from those 
who had received kindnesses at Miss 
Haldane's hands. Generally in such scenes 
there is to be detected an element of dissent 
or discontent from some carper, a discordant 
note which mars the harmony, but it was not 
so here : the affection expressed for the young 
lady at the Manor House was perfect and 
sincere. 

This set me thinkim?. Hitherto I had felt 
no curiosity concerning the unrevealed 
matter of business upon which I had been 
summoned to Chudleigh Park, and I had 
assented to Mr. Haldane's request to see me 
for the sole reason that I desired to make the 
acquaintance of Eachel Diprose and judge 
for myself, whether she was a girl likely to 
make my son happy. But now my attention 



14 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

wandered from lier to the master of the 
estate. I had become interested in his 
daughter, and should be glad of an opportu- 
nity to serve her. Why this thought should 
obtrude itself in connection with my mission, 
the particulars of which I had yet to learn, I 
may be permitted to explain. 

Mr. Haldane had requested me to call 
upon him on a little matter of business. 
Well and good ; that sounded innocent 
enough, and as if there was not much in it. 
But I knew better ; my experience had 
taught me that there must be a great deal in 
it. Mr. Haldane wished to see me, and had 
selected me as his agent, because of my 
previous connection with a private inquiry 
office which had already executed some com- 
misions for him. Now, when a gentleman 
foes to such a source for assistance, the 
matter he discloses is in every instance a 
matter w^hich he is anxious to keep from 
public knowledge, and in nearly every 
instance wdiich he wishes to keep from the 
knowledge of his family. What concerns 



MISS HALDANE'S BIRTHDAY. 15 

the gentleman directly concerns his imme- 
diate family indirectly ; if he fears exposure, 
be sure there is some disgrace attaching to it, 
and disgrace to him means disgrace to them. 
Why, there are numbers of offices in London 
which are filled with ghosts and skeletons. 
You enter one and see neatly arranged on 
shelves a number of tin boxes, each securely 
locked, and each with a name or mark upon 
it, denoting to whom it belongs. The place 
you stand in is a sepulchre. The boxes, 
smothered with dust, upon which you gaze, 
are coffins in which ugly skeletons are buried. 
Open one and up the mystery jumps and 
stares you in the face, shocking your sensi- 
bilities and causing you to raise your hands 
in amazement at the revelation. What! 
Your old friend who poses before the world 
as the pink of morality, as a man of stainless 
character and honour, a philanthropist, 
perhaps, or a statesman, or a teacher of 
morals, whose homilies upon conscience jsdify 
the public — is it possible that he could have 
been guilty of this foul wrong ? Quite 



16 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

possible, my friend. Do not be too curious 
to pry into the hidden life of the man or 
woman in whose society you delight, and 
whose presence in your home gives pleasure 
to you and your wife and children. Turn 
your eyes inwards, and let sleeping dogs lie. 
Well, then, I argued this way. Mr. Hal- 
dane had sought my services in a matter 
which, dragged before the public, would 
cause unhappiness to the young lady who 
seemed to be loved by everyone who knew 
her, and who was spoken of as an angel from 
heaven. Interested in her happiness was a 
young girl my son George worshipped. For 
his sake, for my own, for the sake of Rachel 
Diprose, and last, Ijut not least, for the sake 
of sweet Miss Haldane, I would undertake 
the task which Mr. Haldane had it in his 
mind to entrust to me. When Miss Haldane 
was happily settled Rachel would consent to 
make my George happy. It was clearly my 
duty, therefore, to do what I could towards 
Miss Haldane's happy settlement in life. A 
roundabout way of reasoning, I dare say, and 



MISS HALDANE'S BIKTHDAY. 17 

founded upon mere conjecture. How far I 
was right or wrong will be seen as we go on. 
I had wandered out of the beaten paths 
during my musings, and now I wandered into 
them again, and mixed with the holiday folk. 
Hearing the voices of children singing I 
walked forward and stood on the outskirts of 
the circle of people who were listening to the 
pleasant performance. The school children 
were marshalled in order, and had just com- 
menced an original song composed by a local 
poet in honour of Miss Haldane. The children, 
who all had new frocks on, had been carefully 
drilled, and sang admirably ; and standing by 
himself was the local poet, with his hands 
clasped, listening to his verses in a state of 
agonised rapture, convinced, no doubt, that 
the eyes of the world were upon him. The 
song being ended, the little girl who sang the 
solo part was called up to the gentry, and a 
young lady presented her with a book. Who 
this young lady was was made clear to me by 
the local butcher calling out, " Three cheers 
for Miss Haldane," which were lustily and 
VOL. I. 2 



18 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

heartily given without regard to the number. 
The village people waved hats and handker- 
chiefs, and would have cried themselves 
hoarse had not the fugleman, exhausted with 
his efforts, come to a sudden stop, whereat 
they foUowed suit. Partially recovering, the 
butcher demanded three cheers for Mr. Hal- 
dane, which also were given, with less hearti- 
ness, but still with some show of enthusiasm. 
Miss Haldane, who w^ore a dress of pure 
white, blushed prettily, and nodded with 
much sweetness, and turned to her father 
with smiles saying something to him, which, 
of course, at the distance I was from her, I 
could not hear. The most beautiful season 
of the year is spring, as it is the most beauti- 
ful season of life, and surely a sweeter ex- 
emplification of this was never seen than in 
the person of Miss Haldane. Her face was 
the loveliest I had ever beheld, and there was 
a quality of goodness in it which seemed to 
influence all surrounding things, and to invest 
them with something of her own charm of 
sweetness and tenderness. When she dis- 



MISS HALDANE'S BIRTHDAY. 19 

missed the liappy child who had sung the 
solo, she called up the poet to receive his 
meed of praise and thanks. He behaved very 
sheepishly, and scarcely dared to touch the 
hand she held out to him, but the trying and 
triumphant ordeal was soon over, and he 
retired to dream of future fame and glory. 
At this moment, a man, who had approached 
me without my observing him, touched my 
arm. 

" You are a stranger here," he said. 

"Yes," I answered; "I only arrived to- 
day." 

" Mr. Haldane," said the man, " has sent 
me to enquire who you are." 

I took a card from my pocket, on which 
my name was printed, without my address, 
simply " Mr. Millington," and handing it to 
him, said that perhaps he would take it to 
Mr. Haldane. He looked at it, looked at me, 
and went awav, and I saw him mve the card 
to Mr. Haldane. Returning soon, the man said : 

" Mr. Haldane would like to speak to 

you." 

2* 



20 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

I followed him, and observed that Mr. 
Haldane was moving away from his com- 
panions, with the evident intention of 
speakingjprivately to me. Upon our coming 
together, the man who had conducted me 
stood a little apart. 

" I saw" you among the people," said Mr. 
Haldane, " and knew you were a stranger." 

" You have sharp eyes," I thought, but I 
said nothing to that effect, only that I had 
written to him that I was cominij to 
Chudleigh Park in compliance with his 
request. 

" I received your letter," he said, " but 
you did not inform me you were coming 
to-day." He paused a moment. " I cannot 
speak to you till to-morrow." 

" That will be convenient to me, sir," I 
said. 

He called to the man who had broui?ht me 
to him. " Simpson, see that this gentleman 
has a room somewhere in the village 
to-nio;ht." 

" Yes, sir," said Simpson. 



MISS HALDANE'S BIRTHDAY. 21 

I was surprised at his reference to me as 
" this gentleman," but I set it down to his not 
wishing to make my name known. One 
thing leads to another, you see, and when you 
wish to keep things dark you cannot be too 
careful. But he could not keep my name 
from Simpson, who had seen it on my card. 

"That is all, I think," said Mr. Haldane. 
"I shall be disenfya2:ed to-morrow at twelve." 

" I will call upon you punctually, sir," I 
said. 

He nodded and walked away, but he had 
not gone a dozen yards, before he turned and 
beckoned to me. I went to him, Simpson 
stopping discreetly at a distance. 

" You need not say anything," he said, 
" about my sending for you." 

"No one shall know, sir," I said. 

He nodded again, and walked off, this time 
for good. 



CHAPTER III. 

A DINNER AND AN INTERRUPTION. 

Simpson sauntered towards me with a careless, 
unconcerned air, as though the idea of intro- 
ducing himself had just occurred to him. 
There is something in the manner and bearing 
of certain classes of men which at once 
betrays their calling. For instance, a jockey. 
Seeing one even for the first time, who could 
mistake him ? You look at his face, and you 
wonder how he feels off a horse. He is like 
a sailor walkins; along; macadamised roads 
after a long voyage. A butcher, too. It is 
impossible for him to disguise himself. In 
private life he is generally respectably 
dressed ; his clothes are remarkably new, and 
his boots and hats have a wonderful polish on 
them ; but you cast just one glance at him, 
and you see the inner man, in flannel apron, 
knife in hand, with a " buy, buy, buy ! " 



A DINNER AND AN INTERRUPTION. 23 

expression on his features. The same with 
valets and body - servants. The nicely 
smoothed hair, the half-shding, half-confident 
motion of their bodies, the cut of their 
clothes, when they wear their own, the 
quietly observant eye, unmistakably proclaim 
their calling. It was Simpson's, as I 
correctly judged ; he was Mr. Haldane's valet, 
and it was not long before he volunteered the 
information, which was thrown out as a 
feeler, and as an invitation to a like confi- 
dence on my part. But I was on my guard ; 
my plan was to ask questions, and to answer 
as few as possible. So I fenced and parried, 
and Simpson made no demur which gave me 
rather a high opinion of his abilities. 

All tliis time you may be sure I had not 
forgotten Eachel Diprose, but I had seen no 
one resembling the portrait George had of 
her ; and it occurred to me that Simpson was 
the man to enlighten me as to what kind of 
girl she was. Upon my prompting he 
furnished me with an account of the domestics 
in Mr. Haldane's establishment, from the 



24 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

housekeeper and butler downwards ; he told 
me theu^ several names, and I noticed, when 
he mentioned Rachel Diprose, that there was 
just that difference in his tone which denoted 
that she was a person who held a special 
place in his mind. I began to speculate 
whether Simpson was a married man. 

" The housekeeper and butler are married, 
I think you said ? " 

" Yes," he answered. 

" That must make it comfortable for them," 
I observed. " Good situations, everything 
provided, no butchers' bills to pay, and 
putting by a pound now and then for a rainy 
day." 

" They've nothing to complain of," said 
Simpson. 

" Some gentlemen," I said, " object to 
keeping married people in their employ, but 
Mr. Haldane is more liberal-minded." 

" That doesn't prove liberal-mindedness." 

" Perhaps not ; I'm speaking in a general 
way. Now, you " — and I cocked my eye 
knowingly and reflective^ at him — " I should 



A DINNER AND AN INTERRUPTION. 25 

take you to be a married man, with a cliarm- 
ing wife and family." 

" Wrong. I'm a single man." 

" All the more agreeable for you," I said, 
shifting my ground. "There you are, a 
bachelor, with a lot of nice girls about him 
that he can pick and choose from. You 
must be in clover. There's pretty Eachel 
Diprose, now, a favourite with her young 
mistress, and 111 wager with a bit of money 
put by." 

He looked at me, seemed suddenly to 
remember something and instantly shut up. 
Which caused me to drift into other subjects. 

We had walked out of the park and into 
the village while we were conversing, and 
Simpson stopped before a public-house called 
"The Brindled Cow." 

" You can get a bed here," he said. " I'll 
make it all right with the landlord." 

" And perhaps," I said, " you won't mind 
taking a drink with me. I feel a little strange, 
being in a strange part of the country, and 
shall be glad of company. If ever you come 



26 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

to London we might spend an evening to- 
gether." 

Had I thought twice I should not have 
thrown out the hint. He took it up quickly. 

"I'll drink with you with pleasure," he 
said ; " and I'll spend an evening with you in 
London when I've got one to spare. What's 
your address ? " 

I was fairly beaten, I own, and, without 
giving him offence, could not refuse to tell 
him where I lived. Then we went into the 
inn. 

The arrangement for a bed being made, 
I inquired what particular tipple my new 
friend preferred, and asked the landlord to 
join us. 

"Spirits just before going to bed," said 
Simpson, " beer in the morning, and port 
wine in the evening. That's my system. 
The landlord has a good bottle of port wine 
in his cellar." 

It being evening now, I called for the bottle 
of good port wine, in accordance with 
Simpson's system, and then, at his suggestion, 



A DINNEE AND AN INTEKEUPTION. 27 

we adjourned to a small room in which there 
was a bag;atelle table, and befyan to drink and 
smoke and pla}^ I could have beaten him 
easily, but I allowed him to beat me, and as 
he pocketed the twopences for which we 
played I saw that losing was a winning game 
for me. I drove another nail in by remark- 
ing that I had had no dinner, and asking 
would he join me. Certainly he would, he 
replied ; it was all hurry-scurry up at the 
Hall ; and if I wanted to know what duck 
and green peas were like, the landlord of 
" The Brindled Cow " would show me. 

So the dinner was ordered, and we con- 
tinued to play bagatelle till it was ready. 

" You're a man after my own heart," said 
Simpson, as he polished off the choicest slices 
of the duck, and ladled down the green peas, 
which really were delicious. " I didn't take 
to you at first, but it shows how a, man may 
be mistaken. What's all that row about 
outside ? " 

The landlord, who had entered to at- 
tend to our wants, replied that Miss 



28 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

Haldane had come from the park to the 
village, to see how the people were enjoying 
themselves ; but the sounds we heard were 
the reverse of festive. A woman's shrill 
voice and excited murmurs reached our 
ears. Simpson went to the window, and 
exclaimed : 

" By the Lord I It's that girl Honoria 
come back ! There's mischief brewing." 

And out he went, leaving, to my surprise, 
some dainty morsels on his plate. I hastened 
after him and, keeping close, pushed my way 
through a number of people gathered round 
two women, whom they hemmed in. One 
was a woman of middle age, and it was her 
shrill voice I had heard. She was standing 
over the form of another female, poorly 
dressed, whose crouching attitude prevented 
me from seeing her features. 

"Here she is, the slut!" cried the angry 
woman. " Here she is, come back with her 
shame and her brazen face ! She commenced 
young enough, didn't she ? But young as 
she is, she's old enough for sin. Have you 



A DINxNER AND AN INTERRUPTION. 29 

brought a baby with you, you huzzy, or have 
you dropped it in the water ? Where are my 
earrings and brooch you stole before you ran 
away, jo\i thief, you ? Isn't there a pohceman 
here to take the drab into custody ? I'll drag 
her to prison with my own hands if no one '11 
help me ! " 

Thus she went on, screaming at the top of 
her voice, and had it not been for me would 
have laid violent hands upon the frightened 
creature she was reviling; and accusino-. She 
paused to recover her breath, and as she did 
so some person said : 

" 'Sh ! Miss Haldane is coming." 
There was a sudden stillness, and the ranks 
opened for the young lady to pass through. 
She came close to the accuser and the 
accused, and, stooping, placed her hand upon 
the shoulder of the crouching figure. At this 
touch the woman raised her head, and seeing 
who was by her side, clutched Miss Haldane's 
dress convulsively, as if for protection from 
the enemies who surrounded her. The up- 
raised face was wild, and full of anguish and 



30 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

terror, but it was scarcely less beautiful than 
that of her saviour. 

" Oh, Honoria, Honoria ! " murmured Miss 
Haldane, and she knelt and drew the face of the 
unfortunate girl to her breast. 

There was a heavenly pity in her ej^es, a 
world of tenderness in her voice. An angel 
from Heaven, indeed, was this sweet girl. 



^MimMU- 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE STORY OF HONORIA. 

A FEW minutes later I was standing by the 
window of the room in which Simpson and I 
had but partly dined. There was no person 
in the room but myself, and I could have 
been more sociably employed had I descended 
to the bar of " The Brindled Cow " and mixed 
with my fellow man. But there were draw- 
backs to this course. My fellow man, as he 
w^as now represented in the bar of the inn, 
was distinctly noisy and unruly, having drunk 
more than was good for him, and I objected 
to his company in that condition. Therefore 
I was consulting my inclination in avoiding 
him, and I was lonely from choice. 

What had occurred with respect to the 
incident referred to at the end of the last 
chapter was this : 



32 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

When Miss Haldane drew the face of 
Honoria to her breast, shielding her, as it 
were, from the fury of the woman who was 
accusing her, she looked up at the people 
who surrounded them. JN^ot one in the crowd 
spoke a word, and the only sounds that were 
heard proceeded from the sobbing girl who 
lay in the arms of her protector. Presently 
Miss Haldane, whispering something in 
Honoria's ear, rose, holding Honoria's hand, 
who rose with her. The expression on Miss 
Haldane's face, as she looked around, was one 
of reproach and pity. Honoria's head was 
sunk low upon her bosom, and she did not once 
lift it. Miss Haldane's silent appeal to the 
villagers caused them to fall ajoart, and a free 
passage was opened for the two girls, who 
passed through it slowly and in silence. 
They walked through the narrow street in 
the direction of the park, and in a few 
moments were out of sight. Only one person 
followed them, walking some distance behind. 
This person was Simpson, for whose return I 
was awaiting with a natural curiosity to hear 



THE STOEY OF HONORIA. 33 

the story which I knew must be attached to 
the siiiGfular and exciting^ incident. 

It was an hour before Simpson rejoined me, 
and he came into the room briskly. There 
was satisfaction in his eyes as he observed 
that the cloth was still on the table. 

" That's all over," he said, " and now I 
suppose M^e can finish our dinner," 

"Yes," I said. "I ordered them to keep 
the sweets hot, but the duck must be cold by 
this time." 

" Cold duck is delicious," said the voracious 
Simpson. " Let's have it up." 

What remained of the duck was brought 
up, and Simpson was mainly instrumental in 
polishing it off. Then we had the sweets, 
then the cheese and watercress, and the bottle 
of port being finished, I called for another. 
It had the effect of making Simpson meUow 
— and communicative. 

" That was a curious scene," he remarked. 

" It was," I said. " Miss Haldane has a 
kind heart." 

"A lady may go too far though," he 
VOL. I. '6 



34 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

observed. "I can understand people with 
third-class tickets trying to get into first-class 
carriages, but I am hanged if I can understand 
the other way of things." 

"There can be no doubt," I said, "that 
Miss Haldane is first-class, and the girl with 
the strange name third." 

" It is a strange name," said Simpson ; " all 
very well for a lady, but it's handicapping a 
common girl too heavily, likely to turn her 
head, you know." 

" She beloni^s to the viUacre," I hazarded. 

" In a sort of fashion. She hved here long 
enoug;h." 

" Her parents must be dreadfully cut up." 

" She hasn't any. A fine- looking girl, 
MiUington," said Simpson, becoming famihar, 
which I set down to the wine. 

" I just caught a gUmpse of her." Half-a- 
dozen of " The Brindled Cow's " best cigars 
were brought in, at my order. " Do you 
smoke ? " 

" Every gentleman smokes. Thank you. 
As I said, a fine-looking girl. A saucy face 



THE STORY OF HONORIA. 35 

— and such eyes ! A different kind of beauty 
from Miss Haldane's, but some prefer one sort, 
some another. I Hke 'em dapperer and 
trimmer, not so brunettj'." 

"Is there any truth in the accusation the 
woman brought against her ? " 

" There's no saying. She might have 
taken the brooch and earrings, then again 
she mightn't. She was fond of finery, and 
that tells against her. There's no fear of her 
being put in prison ; she's lucky in having a 
lady like Miss Haldane on her side. If it was 
her father, it would be another pair of shoes. 
He'd give her three months and take a 
pleasure in it. Would you like to hear the 
story ? " 

" These stories are always interesting," I 
said ; " doubly so when they are told over a 
friendly glass." 

" There's a mystery about her birth," said 
Simpson, who was in the humour to hear 
himself talk. " Seven miles from here lies 
the village of Bittern, a quarter the size of 
this. Seventeen or eighteen years ago a 

3* 



36 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

woman comes from somewliere, and takes a 
cottage there. Four shillings a week she 
pays for it ; three rooms, bedroom, parlour, 
and kitchen. She brings with her a baby, 
this same Honoria. No one knows anything 
about the woman, and it is supposed that the 
child is her own. How does she pay her way ? 
She receives every Tuesday morning a post- 
office order for eighteen shillings, which leaves 
her fourteen shillings a week to live on, after 
paying her rent. With only a baby to keep 
she can manage very well upon that. After 
a while it comes to be understood that 
Honoria is not her own child, and that she is 
taking care of her for somebody. It is 
nobody's business, and nobody has anything 
to say about it ; and so the woman and child 
live in the cottage till Honoria is seven years 
old. Before she gets to that age it is noticed 
that the eighteen shillings a week does not 
come as regularly as it used to. How that 
gets to be known is through the baker, who 
keeps the post-office, and who cashes the post- 
office orders the woman receives. A vear 



THE STORY OF HONORIA. 37 

later, when Honoria is eight, something of 
more importance occurs. The woman dis- 
appears and Honoiia is left to take care of 
herself. She is too young to do that, and so 
she becomes a waif and stray, picking up 
a bit of grub here, and a bit of grub there, 
and sleeping anywhere and everywhere. 
When the woman disappears she is in 
arrears for rent, and her few bits of sticks 
are sold to settle arrears ; then the cottage is 
let to somebody else, and Honoria is thrown 
pretty well stark naked on the world. There's 
no saying what would have become of her if 
it hadn't been for Miss Haldane, who was no 
older than Honoria at the time, but who, 
riding through Bittern, sees a little child 
sitting by a hedge, sobbing her heart out. 
Down my young lady insists upon getting, 
and she goes up to Honoria, just as she did 
outside an hour ago, and sits down by her 
side, and gives her some sweets, and winds up 
by bringing Honoria into the carriage and 
riding back with her here to Chudleigh. If 
Miss Haldane had been ridinsj with her father 



38 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

this wouldn't have happened, because he's not 
given to noticing poor people, but there was 
only the nurse in the carriage with my young 
lady, and so she had her way. Now / come 
into the story. Mr. Haldane sends for me, 
and says that his daughter has brought some 
wretched child into the village, and asks me 
to find out who she is. That is how I got 
the particulars I've just told you of. While I 
was gathering them Ilonoria is kept with the 
servants at the Hall, and Miss Haldane insists 
upon looking after her, and does all sorts of 
absurd things. If she had been allowed to 
have her own way entirely Honoria would 
have slept with her, but they put a stopi)er 
to that. Mr. Haldane, I think, saw Honoria 
once, but I am not sure about that, and it 
isn't of any consequence. I came back with 
my report, and Mr. Haldane said that Honoria 
couldn't remain at the Hall, and that I'd 
better find some woman in the village, who, 
for two or three shillings a week, would take 
care of the child. That wasn't a difficult 
matter, and Honoria goes to live with Mrs. 



THE STORY OF HO^'ORIA. 39 

Porter, tlie woman who says she's been robbed 
of her brooch and earrin<?s. Till Honoria is 
twelve years old the steward gives me the 
money every week to pay Mi's. Porter, but 
then Miss Haldane, who has more pocket 
money than she knows what to do with, 
takes the matter out of the steward's 
hands, and settles with Mrs. Porter herself. 
And a pretty penny Mrs. Porter makes out 
of her." 

Simpson pausing here to pour himself out 
another glass of port, I put in a word. 

" Mr. Haldane has a stronger will than his 
daughter." 

" No doubt of that. He's master — 0, yes, 
he's master." 

" Why did he allow his daughter to 
take this delicate affair out of his hands, 
she being at the time only twelve years of 
age ? " 

" He didn't trouble himself about it. I 
don't know that he ever inquired after 
Honoria, or ever stepped a yard out of his 
road to see her." 



40 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

" Would 3^ou like a whisky and soda ? " I 
rang the bell. 

" You're a good sort, I'll finish Honoria, 
and then I'll take my nap. It'll freshen me 
up for what I've got to do at the Manor 
House to-nio-ht. There's a grand ball to be 
given there, and I don't intend to be out of 
it. Well, then, Honoria grows up, and Miss 
Haldane grows up, and I never saw a lady 
take such an interest in a poor girl before. 
She gives her dresses and bits of finery, and 
she has her tauo;ht, and alto^-ether makes as 
much of her as if they were equals. That's 
the way things went on till about this time 
last year, and then all the village rings with 
the news that Honoria's run away." 

" With whom ? " 

" Nobody knows. The only sure thing is 
that she's gone ; and Mrs. Porter goes about 
saying that the girl has robbed her. She 
makes out a list of the missing things — the 
brooch, the earrings, a shawl, a pair of boots, 
and some bits of old china." 

" In the accusation she brought against 



THE STOEY OF HOMORIA, 41 

Honoria this evening," I remarked, " she 
made no mention of the latter articles." 

" No, because they were recovered. A 
tramp who'd been seen in the village was 
taken up a week afterwards, and everything 
but the brooch and earrings was tracked ; he 
had stolen and sold them." 

" It stands to reason that he stole the 
missincf things as well." 

" Mrs. Porter says no, and sticks to it that 
Honoria stole the jewellery. She never said 
so in Miss Haldane's presence, so that my 
young lady has just heard of it for the first 
time." 

" I, for one, don't believe the poor girl is a 
thief. If she were, she would never have 
shown her face here again. What construc- 
tion, apart from the missing jewellery, was 
put upon her running away ? " 

Simpson's blinking eyes were fixed on my 
face. " What construction would you put 
upon it ? " 

" Well, well," I said, " we are always 
ready to be uncharitable. But after all, the 



42 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

girl might have left the village to better 
herself," 

" Honestly ? " asked Simpson. 

" Yes, honestl}^" I replied, feeling nettled 
with myself because of intruding doubts, 
and knowing that I was only championing 
Honoria for the sake of Miss Haldane. 

" You don't mean it, Miliington. Bring 
your common sense to bear ; bring your 
knowledge of the world to bear. If she had 
gone away honestly she would have left the 
village in the light of day ; she would have 
said good-bye to her friends. But she goes 
away in the dead of night ; she says good bye 
to nobody ; and the clerk at the railway 
station swears she didn't travel to wherever 
she went by rail. There's very little traffic at 
the railway station here, and no one in the 
village can go away by train without it's 
being known." 

" How did Miss Haldane take her disap- 
pearance ? " 

" Never said a word to any of us about it. 
She was paler and more melancholy than 



THE STORY OF HONORIA. 43 

she'd been, especially when she passed Mrs. 
Porter's door ; and of course none of the 
villagers spoke to her about Honoria." 

" Miss Haldane might have heard from 
her." 

" She might ; but if she did she kept it to 
herself The mystery to me is, why she ever 
came back. And now, if you've no objec- 
tion, I'll take my forty winks." 

He lay back in his chair and closed his 
eyes, with a smug expression of satisfaction 
on his face. Without a doubt Simpson was 
a gentleman on very good terms with him- 
self. I contemplated him a moment or 
two in silence. What he had imparted 
to me had increased instead of allaying my 
curiosity. 

" Simpson," I said, rather sharply. 

" Hallo ! " he cried, with a start, opening 
his eyes lazily. 

" Just one question or two before you 
go off." 

" About that girl Honoria ? " 

" Yes, about Honoria." 



44 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" Bother Honoria," he said, and closed his 
eyes again. 

" Come," I said, in a coaxing tone, " like 
a good fellow now. It won't take you a 
minute." 

" I'm not going to open my eyes again, 
I tell you that, Millington. WeU, what 
is it ? " 

" Did she have any sweethearts in the 
viUage ? " 

" All the young men in the place were 
sweet on her," he answered, drowsily. " Eyes 
like sloes, hair down to the waist, cherry 
lips "' He smacked his own. 

" Any regular sweethearts, I mean ? " 

" Not one that she encouraged out and out. 
Let me go to sleep." 

But I was determined he should not tiU he 
had answered me. I shook him smartly. 

" Too bad, Millington ; too bad," he mur- 
mured. " Where's your consideration ? " 

"When she disappeared from the village 
did anyone else disappear at the same time ? " 

" Not a living soul, man or woman." 



THE STORY OF HONORIA. 45 

" Did she go to London ? " 

" Not knowing, can't say." 

These four words dropped slowly from his 
lips, and were followed by a snore. Simpson 
was off, and I could not get anyther word out 
of him. 



^^ 



"^ 



CHAPTER V. 

EACHEL DIPROSE. 

There was nothing inviting in the prospect 
of sitting in the room with my sleeping 
guest. He was snoring and choking as he 
slumbered, and his mouth was wide open. 
Blowing out the candles to prevent a possible 
accident I left the room. " The Brindled 
Cow " was doino- a rattlino- business, which the 
landlord was attending^ to with tact and con- 
scientiousness, persuading those who had had 
a little more than enoui^h to heed the advice 
of their wives, and go home lilie good sensible 
souls, for the sake of themselves and the quality 
of the Manor House, of whom it was evident 
they stood in wholesome dread. As I moved 
among these scenes I could not help reflecting 
upon the small difference that existed between 
life in an obscure village and life in the 
great Babylon from which I had journeyed 



KACHEL DIPROSE. 47 

in the morning. What I had witnessed 
during the last few hours was pregnant proof 
of this. I thought of Honoria ; of the accu- 
SMtion which had been brought against her, 
and which I felt was false ; of the shame to 
which she had been brought, and which I felt 
was true ; I thought of her champion, in 
whose sweet face shone purity and charity ; I 
thought of the grand ball that was to be 
given presently at the Manor House ; of the 
joy and gladness that would prevail ; and as I 
dwelt upon the gay scene I saw a despairing 
girl to whom the world was a prison filled 
with threatening shadows. Virtue and vice, 
light and darkness, side by side. 

A hand was laid upon my arm. I looked 
down, and saw a comely young woman, who 
looked up at me demurely. 

" You were pointed out to me, sir," she 
said, " as Mr. Millington. I should have 
known you anywhere." 

Pleasant eyes, pleasant features, and a 
pleasant voice. 

" And I should have known you," I said, 



48 THE MARCH OF FATE. 



holding out my hand in a fatherly way, 
" wherever I met you. How would you have 
recognised me ? " 

" By your likeness to George. How would 
you have recognised me, sir ? " 

" By your likeness to the portrait George 
is never tired of gazing at, my dear." 

" I am glad to hear that, sir," said Eachel 
Diprose. " How is George, sir ? " 

" He is well, and sends j^ou his love." 

She moved a little into the light so that I 
could see her quite clearly. It was modestly 
done, and I was pleased at the action. I had 
had my doubts of Eachel ; they grew weak as 
I gazed upon her pretty face. 

" Have you come expressly from the Hall 
to see me ? " I asked 

" Yes, Miss Haldane sent me for you. She 
wants you to do her a service, and I said I 
was sure you would." 

" Of course I will, my dear, but still I am 
puzzled a bit how this lias come about. 
Throw a light on it, Eachel," 

" It was in this way, sir. But we had 



EACHEL DIPROSE. 49 

better walk to the Hall ; we can talk more 
comfortably away from the crowd." She 
took my arm and we proceeded in the 
direction of the park. " Something occurred 
in the village that has made Miss Haldane 
very sad. I think you were there at the 
time." 

I guessed that she referred to Honoria, and 
I said, " Yes, I was there." She continued : 

" Miss Haldane saw you among the people, 
and knew you were a stranger. She spoke 
to me, and asked who you were. I said 
I would try and find out, and I went to 
Mr. Simpson and asked him. You may 
imagine how surprised I was when he told me 
your name was Millington, and that you had 
come to see Mr. Haldane upon business. I 
thought at first it was George, but his 
description of you as a middle-aged gentleman 
didn't fit George. I told Miss Haldane what 
Simpson said, and she asked if you could be 
trusted. I answered if you were George's 
father that I would trust you with my life, 
but that if you weren't I hadn't any opinion 

VOL. I. 4 



50 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

to offer." As Eachel's hand was lying on my 
sleeve I put my disengaged hand upon it and 
patted it approvingly ; the conviction was 
dawning upon me that George had made a 
srood choice. " ' If he is Georo-e's father,' she 
said then, ' ask him if he will come and speak 
to me. 

" To do her a service ? " I said. 

" Yes," said Eachel, " to do her a service." 

As she did not volunteer any information 
as to the nature of the service for which I 
was required, I forebore to press her, and 
inwardly commended her for her prudence. 
Having got thus far we fell into conver- 
sation about George, and that was a subject 
I could be eloquent upon. I said nothing 
that was not a pleasure for her to hear, 
and she fully repaid me by saying that 
George spoke of me exactly as I spoke of 
George. 

"It would give my lad great joy," I said, 
" if you were nearer to each other. Sweet- 
heartinu at a distance is not half as agreeable 
as when young people are together." 



RACHEL DIPROSE. 51 

" But it can't be helped," said Racliel. 
" George knows that I have made up 
my mind not to leave my young lady 
till she is settled. I couldn't do it, Mr. 
Millington." 

" Yes, he has told me so. Well, mv dear, 
the sooner Miss Haldane is settled the better 
for all parties." 

We were now at the Hall, and Eacliel went 
to her vouncr mistress. 

" You mustn't mind if you are detained a 
little while," she said, and left me to myself 
for a quarter of an hour or so, at the end of 
which time she made her appearance again, 
and bade me follow her to Miss Haldane's 
room. 

Miss Haldane was at dinner, Rachel whis- 
pered to me as we went upstairs, and she was 
presently to dress for the ball. All around 
me were evidences of state and grandeur, 
which none but a gentleman of great fortune 
could maintain. The servants were in hand- 
some liverj^, and the passages and staircases 
were brinlit with Hizhts and flowers. Xo one 



62 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

took any notice of me, every person I saw 
being intent on business or pleasure. 

Eachel took me into a room adjoining one 
in which, I judged, Miss Haldane was to 
dress. She went into this adjoining room, 
and presently Miss Haldane came from it, and 
greeted me gracefully ; but there was trouble 
in her face. 

" Eachel," said Miss Haldane, " I wish to 
speak to Mr. Millington alone. Eemain in 
the other room in case I want you." When 
Eachel was gone she continued : " It is 
fortunate you are here, Mr. Millington, as I 
should not know whom else to trust. Every- 
one is so busy, and there are some who are 
apt to judge harshly." She paused, as if she 
found it difficult to speak of what was weigh- 
ing on her mind. With abrupt decision, 
which denoted a certain strength of character, 
she said, " It is of the poor girl you saw in 
the village." 

" You may speak freely to me, Miss Hal- 
dane," I said. "I will do whatever you 
desire, and you may trust me to act kindly." 



KACHEL DIPROSE. 53 

" Thank you, Mr. Millington," she said ; 
" your assurance is a great relief to me. 
Has anyone been teUing you anything about 
her ? " 

" Some particulars of her residence in the 
village have reached me, and I am sorry for 
her." 

She gave me a grateful look. " You must 
not believe all you hear, Mr. Millington. 
Honoria is a good girl, and was not satisfied 
with her position. When she went away, 
having no family here that had any claims 
upon her, it M^as with the intention to better 
herself. There was nothing wrons^ in that." 

" Nothing, Miss Haldane." 

" What Mrs. Porter accused her of is 
not true. It was unfortunate that she was 
robbed just at the time that Honoria left the 
village, but Honoria is not to be blamed for 
it. She could not have been happy with 
Mrs. Porter, and that must have been one 
reason for her sudden departure. Mr. Mil- 
lington, do you think you can find her for 
me ? " 



54 THE MARCH OF FATE. 



" But she was with you two or three hours 



ago. 



" I know. I brought her to the Hall, and 
asked the servants to be E^ood to her, and to 
let me see her to-morrow when this busy 
time is over. I was greatly distressed when 
Eachel told me she had left the house." 

" Do you know why she left ? " I asked. 

" No ; nor does Eachel. But she has gone, 
and I am afraid to think what will become 
of her. She is quite penniless, Mr. Milling- 
ton ; she did not tell me so, but I am sure of 
it. I did not offer her money ; I thought I 
would wait till to-morrow, and then I would 
decide how I could best assist her. Poor 
Honoria ! She hasn't a friend, Mr. Mil- 
lington." 

" She has one very sincere friend, Miss 
Haldane." 

" Indeed I would like to be ; but how can 
I when I don't know where she is ? " 

" Before I can advise you, I should like to 
ascertain the cause of her leaving the Hall. 
If you can spare Rachel, and will receive me 



EACHEL DIPROSE. 63 

again in a few minutes, I may see my way 
more clearly." 

" Certainly." She called Eacliel. " Eacliel, 
go with Mr. Millington, and tell him what he 
wants to know. Brinsf him back to me when 
he is ready to come." 

" Yes, Miss," said Eacliel, and she and I 
left the room, and went together to the lower 
part of the house. I had something more 
than a suspicion of the reason of Honoria's 
hasty departure. Bemg given into the care 
of the servants she had met with just such 
treatment as might have been expected by 
any person who was a better judge of human 
nature than Miss Haldane. Black looks had 
been directed towards her, harsh words had 
been flung at her, she had been condemned 
without a trial. Stuncr to the soul the 
unhappy girl had fled, to hide herself — 
Where ? 

I did not make the inquiries myself, but, 
through Eacliel, I learned all that I wanted 
to know. Eeading between the lines, and 
reasoning out the bare ^particulars with which 



56 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

slie supplied me, the suspicion I had formed 
became a certainty ; and thus armed I re- 
turned to Miss Haldane. 

" Honoria will not come back to the Hall, 
Miss Haldane." 

" Oh, Mr. Milhngton ! " 

" You spoke truly when you said that some 
people are apt to judge harshly. I am afraid 
that is the case with the servants here." 

" But they have not heard what Honoria 
has to say! " 

" If they did," I said, with gentle firmness, 
" it is not likely she would be believed." 

With the same abrupt decision I had 
already noticed in her manner Miss Haldane 
said : 

" Mr. Millington, Honoria must be found." 

" I will endeavour to find her." 

" Poor Honoria — poor Honoria ! Think of 
the terrible night before her ! Every house 
shut against her ! Everyone she meets 
turning from her ! Oh, Mr. Millington, if I 
had been a yoor girl it might have happened 
to me ! " 



RACHEL DIPROSE. 57 

" JSTever," I thought, but I held my tongue. 

She took a purse from her pocket, and 
emptied it into my hands. There were six 
sovereigns and a few pieces of silver. 

" I shall never be able to repay you," she 
said, " if you will find Honoria, and give her 
this, with my love and pity. You are a 
father, and will be tender to her. See that 
she has shelter to-night, and counsel her what 
to do to-morrow. If she will not come to 
me, ask her if I may come to her ; and if she 
will not consent to this, beg her to write to 
me, and say that I will always, alwa3^s be her 
friend." 

She entrusted me with many more sweet 
messages of a similar nature, and I promised 
to do my best to carry out her wishes. 

" There is somethincf else, Mr. Millinaton. 
Go to Mrs. Porter in the morning, and 
ascertain what value she places upon the 
brooch and earrings which the tramp stole 
from her with the other things. Pay her 
whatever she asks, and I will give you the 
money. I will not have Honoria's name 



58 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

coupled with any accusation of that kind, 
though I know the charge is false." 

" I will do everything," I said, " in the 
way you wish it done." 

" I am truly beholden to you," she said, 
shaking hands with me. 

And so I bade her good-night, and went to 
find Honoria. 



■fe-S^?-^ 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE LAKE OF LILIES. 

I PKOCEEDED ill the direction of the village ; 
not that I expected to find Honoria there, 
but it was likely I should be able to extract 
information from some one who saw her after 
she left the Hall. But I learned nothing. 
Not one of the persons to whom I spoke had 
seen anything of Honoria, and I found myself 
at a standstill. In a discontented mood I 
retraced my steps to the park, and wandered 
through the dark spaces, carefully scrutiniz- 
ing any likely spot in which Honoria might 
have sought refuge for the night. I met 
with no success, however, and was debating 
where to proceed when I thought of Chud- 
leigli Woods. For a stranger like myself to 
go there and search for a girl whose long 
residence in Chudleigh must have made its 



60 IHE MAECH OF FATE. 

intricacies familiar to her was a forlorn hope, 
but it was the only hope that remained, and 
I turned my face to the rustic bridge which 
spanned the lake of lilies. Having crossed 
this bridge I paused to decide which direction 
to take, to the right or to the left. Either 
way I was confronted with a tangle of trees 
which seemed to mock my efforts. Idly 
standing for a few moments on the edge of 
the lake I pushed the stout walking-stick I 
always carried with me into the water, to 
sound its depths. I could not touch the 
bottom, and I shuddered as I reflected that it 
was deep enough to end the woes of any rash 
and despairing mortal. One plunge upon 
such a night as this, and the wretched life 
was over. Did the quiet surface uj)on which 
I gazed hide a tragedy so awful ? Common 
enough in human records was such an ending 
of folly and sinful temptation. 

Before I had determined on my course my 
attention was attracted by a red glow in mid 
air at the other end of the bridge. A man 
was there, walking towards me, and the glow 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 61 

came from a cigar lie was smoking. As he 
approached me I observed that he was in 
evening dress, but the night was too dark 
for me to see his face clearly. By his springy 
steps I judged him to be young, and there 
was a noticeable freedom, not to say inso- 
lence in his movements which impressed me 
strongly. His appearance in evening dress, 
in a spot so secluded, aroused my curiosity. 
He was a gentleman — I am setting down the 
conclusions I formed as he traversed the 
bridge — and came from the Hall. Certainly 
for no idle purpose ; there were pleasanter 
places in the park in which he could have 
smoked without interruption. Why, then, 
had he chosen these lonely woods in which 
to puff his cigar ? I know the flavour of a 
good cigar, and his was an exceptionally fine 
one, which only a gentleman could afford to 
smoke. It was perhaps because I was in 
search of a clue that I associated this gentle- 
man with Honoria. I was ready to catch at 
any straw that presented itself, and I caught 
at this, and determined to watch his pro- 



C2 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

ceedings. Whether I was right or wrong it 
could do no harm. 

I kept myself well in shadow^, and when, 
having crossed the bridge, he turned, without 
hesitation, to the left, I followed him so 
quietly that I was safe from detection. It is 
generally easy to tell whether a man is 
walking aimlessly or with a distant goal in 
view ; the manner of the gentleman I was 
following indicated the latter, and the 
result proved it to be so. We had gone 
about five hundred yards, when he paused 
before a rough bench which had been 
set up in the forest. Upon this bench sat 
a woman, who raised her head at his 
approach. Otherwise she did not move or 
speak till he addressed her. The woman was 
Honoria. 

They gazed at each other in silence a 
while ; a frightened, piteous expression on 
her face — a scornful, pitiless expression on 
his. 

" Well," he said, " you are here." 



" Yes 



)5 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 63 

" Been waiting long ? " 

" Yes." 

" Ah ! Now perhaps you will tell me 
what the devil brought you back to the 
villaiTe ? " 

" You know." 

" I don't know. Come, out with it ! You 
will do yourself no good by prevaricating." 

" I wanted to see you." 

" In the name of all that's wonderful, what 
for ? " 

" You know." 

" I don't know." 

" You do." In maintaining her point she 
exhibited no defiance. It was a simple and 
helpless iteration of the truth. 

" All rifrht ; I do know. Good-nioht." 

" Austin ! " 

" Well ? " 

But Honoria, whether from weakness of 
character or sheer despair, did not answer 
him. She was thoroughly cowed and beaten 
down, and all she could do was to silently 
clasp her hands and with mournful eyes 



64 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

appeal to him for mercy. He had turned to 
leave her, but he thought better of it, and 
now once more he confronted her. 

" How did you ascertain I was here ? " 

" I guessed you would be. Last year, 
before I " She paused. 

" Go on. Before you " 

" Went away, there was a talk of a cele- 
bration of this birthday. I came upon the 
chance." 

" A devilish unlucky chance. You had 
better have remained where you were." 

" I could not." 

" Why ? " 

" I was turned out of my lodgings. I had 
no money to pay the rent." 

" A likely story. How did you get here ? " 

" I walked." 

"All the way?" 

" All the way." 

" You must have enjoyed yourself." 

He was so utterly heartless that I could 
have struck him ; but to carry out Miss 
Haldane's merciful intention it was imperative 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 65 

I should keep myself from the observation of 
this gentleman. 

"Give me your attention," he said pre- 
sently. " You ought to know me prett}^ well 
by this time, and if you think you can turn 
me from any purpose I have formed you will 
find out your mistake. I told you in London 
that I was tired of you, and intended to have 
nothing more to do with you. You don't 
dispute that, I suppose ? " 

" I don't dispute it. You told me ; but 
what am I to do ? " 

" I don't care what vou do. The world is 
before you." 

" Austin," she said, with some poor show 
of spirit, " when you took me from the 
village " 

" Be careful in what you say. It was your 
own choice." 

" God help me, it was ! But I believed in 
your promises." 

" More fool you ! I should have been as 
great a fool as yourself if I had believed in 
your protestations. We were both playing 
VOL. I. 5 



(;6 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

our own game. You wanted to go to 
London. I took you there, and a pretty 
penny 3'ou cost me." 

"You promised to marry me." 

" 0, yes, the usual cr}^ ! " 

" You promised solemnly, and I believed 
3'ou. How should T have guessed you were 
deceiving me ? " 

"Don't ask me conundrums. I made no 
promise to you that I have not fulfilled. As 
for marrying, you must be mad. You have 
no claim upon me, and I will take precious 
good care that you do not annoy me. There's 
the law, my lady ; if you don't mind you will 
get into its clutches." 

" What have I done to deserve it ? " 

" What have you done ? Why the whole 
village is ringing with it. If I had suspected 
you were a thief " 

" Austin," she cried, interrupting him, 
" you don't, j^ou can't believe it ! " 

"I do believe it, and so does every one. 
Let us put this thing straight, my girl. You 
ran away from the village — don't interrupt 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 67 

me again, please. You are not the only 
3^oung woman who has run away from a 
villao^e, and you won't be the last. On the 
night you disappeared, the woman you were 
living with was robbed of some articles of 
jewellery. You are liable at any moment to be 
taken up on that charge and clapped into 
prison. I don't want to move in the matter 
unless you force me to it." 

" All you want," said Honoria, " is to get 
rid of me." 

" Exactly. The little comedy in which you 
and I played the ])rincipal parts is finished. 
It wasn't by any means an original comedy ; 
the world knows it by heart. The curtain 
fell and I bade you good-bye, and left you 
twenty pounds to start afresh with. If you 
didn't make good use of the money, that is 
your business, not mine, and I don't intend to 
make it mine. I'm not a sponge." 

" I made the money last as well as I could ; 
and you know, Austin, I wrote to you more 
than once." 

" Did you ? " But althouofh this exclama- 

5' 



68 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

tion implied denial I saw that he had received 
the letters, 

" I did, and asked you what I was to do, 
but you never replied. Austin, don't drive 
me to despair. You don't know what 
is before me — something that makes me 
tremble to think of. It would be better 
for me to be dead than to live throu£>ii 
what is coming unless you keep the promise 
you made me." 

"Is that all you have to say?" he asked, 
flicking the ash off his cigar. 

" What more can I say, Austin ? " 

" I can't suggest. You have already said 
too much." 

" There is one thinw I could do if vou 
abandon me." 

" What is it ? " 

" Expose you." 

He laughed. " Who would believe you ? 
Who would take the word of a thief and a 
wanton against that of a gentleman ? There 
have been plenty of these trumped - up 
charges ; look them up, and see who has 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 69 

come off best. You would but expose your 
own sliame, my lady. Now, just look here. 
Dare to threaten me again, and I'll set the 
police on you. Be reasonable, and I'll help 
you on a bit, as I would help a stranger. 
Here's a sovereign ; 3^ou can get back to 
London with it : and then, never let me hear 
of you again. You can't say now that I'm 
hard on you." 

He held out a sovereign to her, but she did 
not take it. 

" Is that all you will do ? " she asked. 

" Oh ! " he said, " do you want more ? " 

" It is not money I mean." 

" I can't think of anything else. Will 
you be sensible, and take a couple of 
sovereigns ? " 

" No." 

" Then I have nothing more to say. Good- 
night." 

He turned on his heel, and walked leisurely 
away, giving her time to call him back. But 
she spoke no word, and presently he was out 
of sig;ht and hearing. 



70 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

My whole attention was now centred upon 
Honoria. I felt that if I suddenly presented 
myself I should frustrate the object I had 
in view. Honoria would know that I had 
been eavesdropping, and that the true story 
of her shame was no longer a secret. The 
chances were, in her state of mind, that she 
would repulse me and fly from me ; and even 
if I succeeded in detaining her she would 
look upon me with suspicion, and regard me 
as an enemy instead as a friend. My purpose 
was to win her confidence, and this would 
scarcely be possible if I showed that I wavS 
fully acquainted with her sad position. 
Therefore, I determined to wait patiently 
until she removed from the spot, and afforded 
me a more favourable opportunity of intro- 
ducing myself. 

For quite a quarter of an hour she did not 
move from her seat. I was prepared for an 
exhibition of grief and despair, but not a 
sound escaped her. She sat perfectly still, 
with her hands clasped before her, her 
manner that of one whose mind was a blank. 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 71 

Some light sound from bird or animal aroused 
her. With a frightened look, her nerves being 
in the condition to construe threateningly 
any indication of life that reached her senses, 
she rose to her feet, and, as though she had 
been ordered from the spot by a voice of 
authority, moved away. In which direction ? 
That of the rustic bridge which spanned the 
lake. From the park there was a road to 
the railway station, from which a train for 
London would leave at twelve o'clock. 1 
looked at my watch ; it was a quarter to 
eleven. There was plenty of time for Honoria 
to get to the station in time to catch this 
last train. Perhaps that was her intention, 
her errand to Chudleis^h liavino' failed. Then 
I thought that Miss Ilaldane had told me 
Honoria was penniless, but, after all, it might 
not be the case. Doubtless she had money 
enough to take her to London, and if she had 
not, I could supply her with more than was 
needful. I pitied the girl sincerely, and 
heartily despised her betrayer, but I had 
not made up my mind as to her character. 



72 THE ilAECH OF FATE. 

I followed her noiselessly to the lake, deter- 
mined to wait till she was near the station 
before I accosted her. 

At the lake she paused in thought for so long 
a time that I began to get anxious. Once 
she turned her head hurriedly in my direction, 
and it was only by a rapid and silent move- 
ment that I escaped being seen by her. 
Then she walked slowly on to the bridge, and 
when she reached the centre, paused again 
and looked over into the lake. It was at this 
point that the water was deepest. There was 
now a light in the sky, and I saw distinctly 
every movement she made. Sitting down 
upon the floor of the wooden bridge she took 
from her pocket an envelope, and from that 
a sheet of notepaper, upon which she wrote 
some words. Replacing the sheet of paper in 
the envelope she returned it to her pocket, 
and then, with a sudden and quick motion 
she stood upright. The decision and rapidity 
of this movement inspired me with the fear 
that she was about to commit suicide. This 
indeed was her intention. Flinging up her 



THE LAKE OF LILIES. 



arms she stood for a moment in suspense, 
with the light shining upon her ; but before 
she could carry her desperate purpose into 
execution she was struggling in my arms. 



^ 



\) m '^ 






CHAPTER VII. 

OFF TO LONDON. 

" Let me go, let me go ! " she cried. 

" In a moment," I said soothingly ; " we 
must get off this bridge first ; it is unsafe." 

Beset by fears, surrounded by enemies, she 
must have put the worst construction upon 
my unexpected appearance. I did all I could 
by kind and assuring words to set her mind 
at ease wdth respect to me, and when we were 
at a safe distance from the lake I said : 

" That rickety old bridge needs repairing. 
No wonder you felt dizzy as you were 
crossing it. I almost tumbled into the water 
myself. You are all right now are you 
not ? " 

Instead of answering my question she 
asked me another. " Where are you going to 
take me ? " 

" Nowhere," I replied with a smile, " except 



OFF TO LONDON. 75 

you wish me to show you the way to any 
place. Though, for the matter of that, I don't 
promise to be of much use, as I am a stranger 
in the villas^e." 

" Don't you know me ? Have you never 
seen me before ? " 

I answered without the least hesitation or 
compunction, " Xo, I don't know you, I have 
never seen you before." A sigh of relief 
escaped her. " But now I look at you," I 
continued, " I shouldn't wonder if you are 
the girl I'm searching for."' Again the ex- 
pression on her face was one of fear, as that 
of a person who was being hunted down. 
*' Now, my dear — don't mind my calling you 
ray dear ; it's only in a fatherly way, and I 
want to be your friend if you'll let me — don't 
get wrong thoughts into your head. All I 
know about you, supposing you to be the 
person I'm looking for, is what Miss Haldane 
has told me, and it isn't likely that she would 
say anything about you that wasn't kind and 
good." 

" Miss Haldane ? " 



76 THE MARCH Ob' FATE. 

"Yes, my dear, Miss Haldane, as sweet a 
young lady as ever drew breath. I happened 
to come down to-night upon a little matter 
of business, and Miss Haldane happening to 
see me, asked me to do her a service. It's 
the first time I've been in Chudleigh, and 
everybody and everything, except Miss Hal- 
dane, is new to me, and that perhaps is why 
she pressed me into her service. Of course I 
don't know it was her reason ; I'm only 
making a guess at it. There's a grand ball at 
the Manor House to-night, you know, and I'm 
not one of the guests, not being a gentleman. 
' Mr. Millington ' — that is my name — ' Mr. 
Millington,' Miss Haldane says to me, ' there's 
a young friend of mine to whom I am afraid 
the servants in the Hall have behaved un- 
kindly. She is very sensitive, and has gone 
away, when I wanted her to remain. I wish 
3^ou would go and find her, and do what you 
can to help her, and give her my love.' " 

" She said that ? " 

" She said that, my dear. ' And give her 
my love, and say that I am her friend, and 



OFF TO LONDON. 77 

shall always be her friend. She hasn't many, 
poor girl.' Then she gave me a description 
of you, and told me your name was Honoria." 

" You are not deceiving me ? " 

" Look me in the face, and sav whether it's 
likely I would deceive a girl who might be my 
daughter, and base and mean enough to 
invent a story to lead her astray ? " 

'■ No," said Honoria, casting a timid glance 
at me, " you don't look like one of that sort." 

" I'm not one of that sort. If I were, Miss 
Haldane would not put trust in me. Then 
she says to me, ' Perhaps Honoria is in want 
of money,' and she empties her purse into 
my hand. ' Give her this, and ask her to 
come to me, or let me come to her, and 
if she will not, tell her to write to me.' " I 
took Honoria's hand in mine, and put into 
it the gold and silver which Miss Haldane 
had entrusted me with. She looked at the 
money w^ith eyes in which tears were rising. 
I hailed this softened mood with satisfac- 
tion ; it was the best of signs. " ' And 
mind,' says Miss Haldane, ' 3'ou're not to 



78 . THE MARCH OF FATE. 

leave Honoria till you see lier comfortably 
provided for.' Then, having to dress for the 
ball, she sent me away to find you, and I 
don't for a moment doubt, if her duties had 
not kept her at the Hall, that she would, have 
come out with me to look for you. Well, my 
dear, it was rather a wild-goose chase I was 
engaged in, and I hardly knew which way to 
look. You weren't in the park, so far as I 
could see, and I went to the woods, and had 
given you up, for I saw no trace of you, and 
was coming back over the bridge when I 
caught sight of a figure crossing that rickety 
structure. I suppose you were alarmed, for 
you struggled to get away from me, and now, 
ni}^ dear, you know all it is in my power to 
tell you. I hope you believe me ? " 
" Yes," said Horonia, " I believe you." 
And now she burst into a passion of tears. 
To strenc^then her confidence in me, I turned 
my head, and waited till her passion was 
spent. Then I said : 

"The question is. What are we to do? 
I have only partly executed Miss Haldane's 



OFF TO LONDON. 79 

commission. She won't be satisfied unless I 
finisli it. I've got to look after you, j'ou 
know." 

" I must ask you sometliinij first," said 
Honoria. 

"I'll answer anything you put to me." 

" You searched the woods for me, and 
didn't find me." 

" No, I did not find you, and I was greatly 
disappointed." 

" Did you see anyone there ? " 

" Not a soul. The place was as quiet and 
lonely as a churchyard. I don't mind con- 
fessing I was glad to get out of it." 

She wiped her eyes, and looked at me 
attentively. 

" Well," I said with a smile, " do you think 
you can trust me ? " 

" I must trust you," she replied, " there is 
no one else." 

" You must have shelter for the night. 
Shall we go to the village ? " 

" No," she said, shuddering ; " not there, 
not there ! " 



80 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" Perhaps you would like to get back to 
London ? " 

"Can I? It is so late!" 

" I have a time-table in my pocket." I 
consulted it. As I have said, there was a last 
night train for London, and there was, more- 
over, an early morning train from the city, 
which would enable me to get back to 
Chudleigh Park in time for my appointment 
with Mr. Haldane. I told Honoria of the late 
train. 

" I will take it," she said. 

" And I will go with you," I said. 

" There is no occasion. I can go alone." 

" My dear," I said, " you will allow me, as 
a father, to know what is best. I would not 
let a daughter of my own travel alone so late 
as this, and I shall not let you. Besides, I 
promised Miss Haldane to see you in safe 
shelter to-night, and I shall carry out her 
wishes." 

She yielded without remonstrance, and we 
stepped on towards the station. It suited her 
humour and mine that our way lay through 



OFF TO LONDON. 81 

a bye-road, where we were not likely to meet 
with any of the villagers, but we had first to 
traverse a path from which I saw the lights 
in the Manor House shining^. We had a few 
minutes to spare, and I asked Honoria whether 
she would mind waiting for me alone while I 
ran to the Hall, my reason — with which I 
made her acquainted — being to endeavour to 
communicate to Miss Haldane the news of 
Honoria's safety. 

"It will relieve Miss Haldane's mind," I 
said. " She is very anxious about you, and 
the knowledge that I am taking care of you 
will contribute to her enjoyment to-night." 

" Yes, go," said Honoria. 

" You will not run away ? " I said. 

" I promise," she answered. 

" Shall I give any message to Miss Haldane 
from you ? " 

" Say that I am humbly grateful," replied 
Honoria, and added, after a struggle with 
herself, " and that I am unworthy of her 
kindness." 

" That, indeed, I shall not say," I remarked, 

VOL. L 6 



82 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

and, leaving her in a secluded spot, I hastened 
to the Hall. 

Good fortune befriended me ; I saw Eachel, 
and she stepped aside with me. 

" Tell Miss Haldane," I said, " that I have 
found Honoria, and am going to London with 
her." 

" It will make her happy to hear it," said 
Rachel ; " she has been worrying about her. 
liut, oh, Mr. Millington, what a trouble for 
you ! " 

" Not at all, my dear," J said. " I would do 
much more than this to serve so sweet a 
lady." 

"Mr. Millington," said Eachel, "I am so glad 
that you are what you are, George was right." 

" He is not wrong about many things, my 
dear," I said. 

" Not about me ? " she asked, with a pretty 
archness. 

" Not at all about j^ou, my dear," I said, 
and I kissed the good girl, there being no 
one to see us. " I shall be back in Chudleigh 
to-morrow. Any word for George P " 



OFF TO LONDON. 83 



"My love, Mr. Milliiigton." 

"I will give it him, Eachel." 

"Mv dear love," she said. 

" Yes, Rachel. Good-night, my dear." 

" Good-nicrht, Mr. MiUin^ton." 

I sped back to Honoria, with some slight 
misgivings as to whether I should find her ; 
but she was faithful to her promise, and we 
arrived at the station before the train was there. 
Honoria kept herself out of view of the 
station-master, and I succeeded in putting her 
in a third-class carriaa'e without her beinn; 
observed by any one who knew her.- There 
were very few^ travellers by the train, and we 
had a compartment to ourselves. It wg-s 
during an endeavour to open a conversation 
with the poor girl that I noticed signs of 
exhaustion in her. 

" You are faint," I said. 

" I am hungry." 

" How careless of me not to have thous^ht 
of it," I said, but I had no time to say more, 
for Honoria's eyes closed, and she sank back 
in a swoon. 



84 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

I could do nothing to relieve her, not 
being provided with food or drink. As she 
lay before me I could not help seeing how 
beautiful she was. Her features were fault- 
less, and her dark hair and eyebrows, in 
contrast with her pallid face, added to her 
lovehness. A dangerous gift for a poor girl 
without parents or protector. My thoughts 
wandered to the man she called by the name 
of Austin, who was clearly her betrayer. I 
did not need to be told the story of the 
betrayal and the desertion ; it was not as he 
had said, a comedy, but he was right when he 
said that the world knew it by heart. Then 
I thought of Miss Haldane. She had no 
suspicion of Honoria's shame ; when she 
became acquainted with it, as one day she 
must, how would she act ? What a shock it 
would be to her pure heart to learn that 
Honoria had fallen so low ! And for Honoria 
hei self, what would be the end ? Too well 
did I divine the meaning of the words 
she had spoken to her betrayer : " You don't 
know what is before me — something that 



OFF TO LONDOX. .85 

makes me 'tremble to think of. It would be 
better for me to be dead than to live throuoii 
what is coming unless you keep the promise 
you made me." Was this man, i\ustin, a 
friend of the Haldanes ? The assignation in 
Chudleicfh Woods with Honoria strensjthened 
the presumption that he was no stranger to 
the locality, and therefore *no stranger at the 
Manor House. Was he trusted by Miss 
Haldane ? Had he succeeded in concealimy 
his true character from her ? In these re- 
flections I saw all the materials for a pregnant 
drama of human life, although only one of 
its incidents had been, by accident, revealed 
to me. 

My business, however, was not with the 
future, but the present. The poor insensible 
girl needed practical assistance, and while the 
train was speeding on I could not render it to 
her. Luckily we stopped at a station ; un- 
luckily there was no refreshment bar there. 
But I made a friend of the guard. For a 
consideration he supplied me with a slice of 
bread and butter, part of his night's meal, 



86 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

and water in a lemonade bottle. I moistened 
Honoria's lips with the water, and bathed 
her forehead with it. She opened her e3'es. 

" Drink," I said, " and eat this slice of 
bread. When we get to London you shall 
have something better." 

She thanked me Gjratefullv, and I 
managed to sustain her spirits till we arrived 
at our destination. I hailed a cab, and in- 
forming the driver of our needs, he took us 
to a coffee house, where a cup of hot coffee 
and some bread and meat put colour into 
Honoria's cheeks. I, also, being rather used 
up, was thankful for the refreshment. 

" Where to ? " asked the driver. 

Strangely, I had not thought of a place, 
and T asked Honoria whether there were any 
lod<T^ino;s to which I could take her. No, she 
answered, she did not know of any. She had 
had rooms in a house, but had been turned 
out of them, and she would not return. It 
was now between three and four o'clock in 
the mornino-, and as I was standini? in 
perplexity, Honoria said : 



OFF TO LONDON. 87 

" Leave me here ; I can manage for 
myself." 

" No," I said, " that is impossible. To 
leave vou alone in London streets at such an 
hour " 

There was nothing for it but to take her 
to my house, and I gave the driver the 
address. I told Honoria what I had deter- 
mined upon. 

" There is only my son and a maid at 
home," I said, " but vou can rest on the sofa 
till morning, when you will be able to get a 
place that will suit you." 

She looked at me, in wonder I thought, 
and we drove to Shepherd's Bush, where I 
dismissed the cab, and rang and knocked at 
my street door. I could not help smiling to 
myself as I thought of George's amazement 
when he saw me at such a time of night in 
the company of a young girl. 

" Who's there ? " George called out pre- 
sently, from the passage. 

" Open the door, old man," I cried. 

" Why, dad ! " exclaimed George, and the 



88 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

door was hastily thrown open. As I ex- 
pected, George, who was in his trousers, 
without coat or waistcoat, fell back at 
sight of Honoria. 

" Light the gas in the sitting - room, 
George," I said. " Hurry up, old man." 

He obeyed me in silence, and I conducted 
Honoria to the room, where she stood with 
her hand restini:^ on the table. 

" This a friend of Miss Haldane's," I said 
to him, " at whose request I have brought to 
London. It would not have been proper for 
her to travel alone in the middle of the night. 
All the houses and hotels are closed, so I 
brought her home here, where she will stay 
till morning." 

" Quite right, dad." But George was 
obviously puzzled. 

" You can have my bedroom if you like," 
I said, turning to Honoria. "You must 
be dreadfully tired." 

" I am ashamed to put you to so much 
trouble," she answered. " I will rest on the 
sofa if you will allow me." 



OFF TO LONLON. 89 

" Very well. Is there anything more I can 
do for you ? " 

" Nothing, thank you. There are few men 
in the world who would have done so much." 

Her lips trembled, and I made a motion to 
George to leave the room. 

" Will you shake hands with me ? " asked 
Honoria. 

" Indeed I will." 

But to my surprise, when I held out my 
hand, she would not take it, and the thought 
crossed my mind that she had asked me to 
try me, and to be sure whether I was ac- 
quainted with her shame — in which case, she 
probably argued, I should have refused. 

" If you can trust me," she said, " will you 
leave me alone here ? " 

" Of course I can trust you," I said 
heartily. " Try and get an hour's sleep. I 
may be able to see you in the morning before 
I go." 

With that I left her, and went straight to 
George. 



CHAPTER Vin. 

SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 

I PLACED him in possession of the facts, but 
although he was much interested in what I 
had to say of Honoria and Miss Haldane, he 
was naturally much more interested in what 
I had to say of Eachel Diprose. I soon 
satisfied him on that head, and he was im- 
mensely pleased at my approval of his pretty 
sweetheart. 

" I have killed two birds with one stone," I 
said. " I have seen Rachel and like her, and 
I have rendered a service to Miss Haldane." 

" Yes," said George, " but the bird you 
went down to Chudleigh to kill is yet on the 
wing — your business with Mr. Haldane." 

" That is still to be let out of the trap," I 
observed. " There's a train from Euston at 
7.40, and I must catch it. I can have a 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 91 

couple of hours' sleep if you'll undertake to 
call me." 

" I'll do that, dad." 

" The girl must be dead tired, George, and 
if she falls asleep won't wake up too readily. 
How does your work stand ? Can you be 
spared till dinner time ? " 

"Yes." 

" You had better remain in the house then, 
and be ready to assist her in any way she 
requires. Don't let her go away without 
breakfast. When people are in trouble 
they appreciate any little mark of atten- 
tion. If I don't see her myself before I 
leave give her a note that I may as well 
write at once ; I mav not have time when I 
wake up." 

I wrote the note there and then : 

" Dear Miss Honoria, — 

" My son George will assist 
you in any way you wish. I am called away 
on business which cannot be postponed. You 
can trust my son thoroughly. If you prefer 



92 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

to consult me instead of him I shall be 
back to-morrow or the next day, and shall be 
glad to advise you. A line here will always 
reach me, and I will attend to it without 
delay. Hoping you are feeling strong and 
well, 

" I am faithfully yours, 

" E. MiLLINGTON." 

Addressing the envelope simply " Miss 
Honoria," I handed the note to George, and 
went to my room. The moment I threw 
myself on my bed I was asleep. 

Short as was my rest, it did me good. I 
jumped up when George called me, gave 
myself a wash in cold water, peeped into the 
garden, and was ready to start. 

" You have ten minutes yet, dad," said 
George, " and breakfast is ready for you." 

There it was on the table, bread and butter 
cut, a pot of steaming tea, and a couple of 
rashers of bacon frizzling on a hot plate. 
And there, too, was a cab waiting at the door 
to take me to Euston. 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 93 

" Seen nothing of Honorica, I suppose ? " I 
said, as I ate the welcome meal. 

" Nothing," said George. " There hasn't 
been a sound in the room." 

" Don't forget my note, George." 

" All right, dad." 

Before I left the house I lingered a moment 
at Honoria's door. All was quiet within. I 
stepped softly away, and said to George as I 
got into the cab : 

" I shall stop at Chudleigh Park to-night, 
at ' the Brindled Cow.' If you have anything 
particular to say you can wire me there, and 
anyhow you had better write this afternoon, 
so that I may receive your letter by first post 
to-morrow morning." 

We shook hands and I was soon speeding 
to Chudleigh Park, where I arrived at eleven 
o'clock. The landlord of " the Brindled 
Cow " looked rather curiously at me, I 
thought, and I immediately jumped at the 
cause. 1 had engaged a bed in his house last 
night and had not occupied it. I was con- 
sidering- whether I should tell him frankly I 



94 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

had been to London, or whether, for Hono- 
ria's sake, I should tell some other tale, when 
he said : 

" Mr. Simpson has been quite anxious 
about you. He was here wp to twelve 
o'clock last night, and has been twice this 
morning to ask after you." 

" It is very kind of him. You told him I 
did not sleep here ? " 

" Oh, yes ; and he said it looked rather 
strange." 

" Well, so it does," said I, my mind made 
up not to beat about the bush, " but the fact 
is, some business I had forgotten called me 
suddenly to London." 

" What train did you take, sir ? " 

" The last." 

" You must have got to London before 
morning ? " 

" I did. It did not matter, my home being 
there." 

" Certainly. Will you want your room 
to-night ? " 

" Yes, and I shall dine here at about five." 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 95 

"Alone?" 

" I can't exactly say." 

"Very well ; there'll be enough for two." 

Both he and I were thinking of Simpson 
with respect to my second dinner at " The 
Brindled Cow " — he, doubtless with a desire 
to increase the bill, I with half an idea that 
Simpson might endeavour to fasten himself 
on to me again. I ran up to my room to 
wash and brush before going to my appoint- 
ment with Mr. Haldane, and then proceeded 
in the direction of the Manor House. I was 
not half way there when, who should I see 
walking towards me but Simpson, the irre- 
pressible ? 

" Why, here you are again," he said, 
speaking as if I was a clown in a pantomime. 
" I am glad to see you, that I am." 

This excess of cordiality did not evoke any 
sympathetic response. I nodded, and said 
curtly I was glad because he was glad. 

" When did you get back ? " he inquired. 

" Back from where ? " 

" From London." 



96 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" How do you know I have been there ? " 
I asked blandly, 

" How do I know ? Do you think anj^one 
can take a ticket for London at our little 
local station without its being known ? " 

" You inquired there ? " 

" I was that anxious about you," said 
Simpson, " that I inquired everywhere. 

" I am much indebted to you." 

" Oh, it was only friendly. You would 
have done as much for me." 

" I am not so sure." 

" Oh, yes, you would, Millington. Every 
man and woman in the world has got the 
hall-mark, a note of interrogation ; some 
large, some small." 

" Yours is a large one, evidently." 

" I don't deny it. Not in persons I don't 
care for, mind ; but when a man collars me 
as you collared me with your free ways — 
after my own heart, MiUington — I'm always 
anxious about him." 

" If you're coUared by many people," I 
remarked, " you must have enough to do." 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 97 

" All, but I'm not. You are a stranger in 
the village, remember. Anything might have 
happened to 3^ou. You might have been 
waylaid, and robbed, and murdered. I'll 
show you a place in Chudleigh Woods where 
a man was murdered some years ago, and to 
this day it remains a mystery. I thought of 
that last night. I said to myself, ' Simpson, 
you are responsible ; you should have looked 
after him better ; you will never forgive 
yourself, Simpson, if anything has happened 
to Millington.' So what did I do ? I went to 
Chudleigh Woods, with a pistol in my pocket, 
to look for you." 

" A likely place for a stranger to go to on 
a dark night?" I said. "Did you think of 
that ? " 

" I only thought of your safety, Millington. 
If I'd been satisfied of that I should have 
laid my head on my pillow with a contented 
mind. I didn't find you in the woods. There 
was the bridge over the lake leading to 'em. 
You might have fallen in, and there would 
have been an end of you. I was positively 

VOL. I. 7 



98 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

uncomfortable. I didn't get to bed till two 
o'clock. And you " — with his eyes on my 
face — " look as if you'd had a bad night." 

" It stands to reason that with such a 
journey I couldn't have much sleep." 

" Of course it does." 

" Your mind's relieved now, I hope ? " 

" It is. I say, Millington " — and he poked 
his fingers in my ribs, and laughed — " you're 
a gay dog, you are ! We're not in it with 
you. Skim milk for us, cream for you. You 
do pick up the tit bits, you do ! " 

" Out with the mystery," I said. 

'• That's where it is," said Simpson ; " it is 
a mystery. ' Who was she ? ' I said to the 
railway porter. ' Didn't see her face,' said 
he, ' and she didn't want me to. Carriage all 
to themselves.' Oh, you're a sly one. Milling- 
ton ! " He gave me a series of winks, and 
laughed heartily. 

There was no misunderstanding his allu- 
sions. He had discovered that I had a female 
companion with me last night. Did he sus- 
pect that that companion was Honoria ? 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 99 

I made a dash at mystification. 

" Suppose I brouglit her down with me 
3'esterday to see the gay doings in the 
village ? " 

This rather staggered him — for a moment 
only, however. 

'• It won't do, Millington, it won't do. 
What, bring a lady all the way from bright 
London to see a tuppenny-ha'penny show like 
ours ! A likely thing ! And is it likel}^ 
either, that you would have left her to 
ramble about by herself all day, and have 
given me, a stranger, so much of your 
pleasant society ? Try another, my bo}", try 
another." 

" I shall do nothing of the sort. There's 
no putting you off the scent, I can see that. 
But you must understand that there are some 
things a gentleman would rather not speak 
about." 

" A wink's as good as a nod to a blind 
horse," said Simpson. "Let's have a word 
on another subject — that girl Honoria. What 
are you looking at your watch for ? " 

7* 



100 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

" What does a man generall}^ look at his 
watch for ? " I retorted. 

" To see the time," replied Simpson calmly, 
which made me rather ashamed of myself for 
showing temper. When you get hot and the 
other man keeps cool, you give him an ad- 
vantage over you. "Have j^ou got an 
appointment ? " 

"I must be at the Hall by twelve o'clock." 

" To see Mr. Haldane. I wish you joy. I 
caught a glimpse of him half an hour ago 
and he looked as black as thunder. It wants 
a quarter of an hour of twelve yet, and it 
won't take you five minutes to get to the 
Hall. This is a fine park, isn't it ? Wish it 
was mine without any mortgages on it. 
Mortgages are the very devil. A man may 
be the master of a great estate, and it may 
be no better than a white elephant. I was 
speaking of that Honoria. What do you 
think ? Since Miss Haldane took her to the 
Hall last nio:ht, nothino's been heard of her." 

" Indeed." 

" Where can she have got to ? I've hunted 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 101 

high and low for her, but it was like looking 
for a needle in a bottle of hay. Singular, isn't 
it ? But I see you want to get rid of me. You've 
got Mr. Haldane on the brain. Hope to meet 
you by-and-bye. Take care of yourself." 

" I'll try to." 

I asked myself as he walked away, whist- 
ling a lively air, whether the interest he 
exhibited in m}^ movements proceeded from 
mere idle motives or from a deeper cause, 
and I could not answer the question. To 
account for a direct motive required a more 
comprehensive knowledge of Simpson than I 
at present possessed. 

Eachel Diprose was looking out for me, 
and ran to me smiling, before 1 reached the 
Hall door. 

" I am so glad you have got back safe," 
she said. " What a tiring journey you must 
have had ! " 

" It was rather so, Eachel," I replied, " but 
I am not an old man yet. George comes 
of a good stock. You've had a late night 
of it, too, I expect." 



102 THE MARCH OF FATE. 



(( 



Yes ; the ball wasn't over till four o'clock, 
and Miss Haldane stopped to the last. Do I 
look tired?" 

" You look as fresh as a daisy, my dear. I 
gave your love to George, and he sent his to 
3'ou. 1 astonished him by making my ap- 
pearance so unexpectedly, and at such an 
hour in the morning, or rather night. I 
suppose Miss Haldane is not up yet." 

" 0, yes, she is, and that is one reason why 
I wanted to speak to you at once." 

" To hear about Honoria," I said. " Well, 
tell Miss Haldane that we got to Ijondon all 
right, and that I took her to my house. 
When I left this morning she was asleep, 
and when she wakes George will look after 
her. I wrote a line to Honoria, saying I 
would be back to-morrow, and that I would 
be ready to help her in any way she desired. 
The poor girl is very unhappy, and very 
grateful to Miss Haldane." 

" So she ought to be, but I don't want 
George to have much to do with her." 

This remark made me suspect that Eachel 



SIMPSON IS INQUISITIVE. 103 

did not regard Honoria in the same liglit'as 
her youncf mistress. The tittle-tattle of the 
servants and the village people had reached 
her ears, and had produced its natural effect 
upon her mind. I did not think any the 
worse of Kachel for that. When boys and 
girls become men and women it is as well that 
they should be in a position to understand 
things. Keeping young people in ignorance 
of natural laws is productive of no end of 
mischief. 

" Don't you be troubled about George, my 
dear," I said, pinching her cheek. " He is a 
good lad, and there is only one little woman 
in the world for him. Now I must go and 
see Mr. Haldane, who wants to speak to me 
about somethini;^ or other. I shall stav at 
' the Brindled Cow ' to-night, and shall 
return to London to morrow morning by the 
11.30 train." 

The clock struck twelve as I sent my card 
up to Mr. Haldane. In matters of business I 
have alwaj^s been a punctual man. 



CHAPTER IX. 

ME. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 

Mr. Haldane was in liis library, a noble 
room, lined with book shelves. He looked 
at his watch as I entered, said " Good- 
morning," and pointed to a chair at the table 
by which he was sitting. 

" I sent for you, Mr. Millington," he said, 
plunging into business at once, " because I 
believe you are a man to be trusted. I 
require such a man to undertake a certain 
private matter, for which I am prepared to 
pay liberally. I gather from your reply to 
my letter and your presence here that you 
are willing to undertake the business." 

In case I wished to retreat this was cutting 
the ground from under my feet, but I recog- 
nised that Mr. Haldane had put the natural 
construction upon my response to his request, 



MR. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 105 

and that I was to some extent compromised. 
Still I said : 

" May I know first, sir, what the business 
is?" 

" No," he repUed, and I saw that he was 
somewhat surprised, " it cannot be disclosed 
to anyone who is not directly engaged in 
it. Did you come to see me out of simple 
idleness ? " 

" Not at all, sir ; only I have retired from 
active work." 

" The fact of your not being actively 
associated with any inquir}^ office is an 
additional recommendation to me. It 
affords a more complete assurance of abso- 
lute privacy." 

I perceived from his manner that if I 
wished to be of service to Miss Haldane, and 
to be free to visit Eachel Diprose at Chudleigh 
Park when I desired, it was necessary for me 
to decide promptly. Mr. Haldane was clearly 
a gentleman not to be trifled with. 

"I will undertake the business, .sir," I 
said. 



106 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

'• You understand that what passes between 
us is in absohite confidence, and that implicit 
secrecy must be observed." 

" I understand, sir ; but I must make one 
remark. Speaking in the dark, not knowing 
yet the nature of the commission, it may be 
necessary for me to employ some person to 
assist me." 

" It may be. In that case you will look 
out for a reliable person, who must not know 
that you are working for me. Plainly, Mr. 
Millino'ton, mv name is not to come into the 
affair." 

"Then I will not mention it, sir." 

"Good. Now, Mr. Millington, I want, as 
far as possible, nothing written upon paper 
concerning this — this commission ; no memo- 
randa lying about which a prying person 
might get hold of. The utmost caution must 
be observed, and the communications which 
pass between us must be personal. If you 
have occasion to write me any letters do not 
refer to the matter — simply say that you are 
coming to see me on a certain day at a 



MR. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 107 

certain hour, and I shall understand that you 
are coming to report progress." 

" It shall be done as you direct, sir." The 
arrangement suited me ; it would give me 
opportunities to see Eachel and Miss 
Haldane. 

" Your memory is good, Mr. Millington? " 

" Excellent, sir." 

"I have written a statement respecting 
the commission " — he seemed to like the 
word, and to be glad to use it instead of 
" business " — " which I propose to read 
to you. When you get the particulars 
in your mind distinctly I shall burn the 
paper." 

"Am I at liberty, sir, to ask you any 
questions as you read ? " 

" For the purpose of perfect clearness, yes ; 
but no questions that do not directly affect 
the matter." 

" I shall keep as strictly to the point as I 
can, sir." 

" Draw a little closer to the table." 

While I did so he went to the door by 



108 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

which I had entered, locked it, and returned 
to his seat. He then took a paper from a 
drawer in the table, and proceeded to read in 
a low clear voice : 

" In the early part of the year 1867 a 
gentleman of the name of Julius Clifford 
took passage for New York in the steamer 
Circassia. Among the passengers on board 
was a young woman named Adeline Ducroz. 
She was in service as lady's maid to a mis- 
tress whose name it is unnecessary to 
mention." 

I interrupted him. " I beg your pardon, 
sir. It may be very necessary. I speak as 
an expert." 

An expression of annoyance appeared in 
his face as he said, " It may have escaped 
Mr. Clifford's memory." 

" Then of course it cannot be stated now. 
But it will not be a difficult matter to obtain 
it from the agents of the vessel." 

" If there is need for it," said Mr. Hal- 
dane. " What are you writing on that 
paper t 



MR. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 109 

" The names of the persons you are intro- 
ducing. They are strange to me, and I must 
get familiar with them. I shall require some 
latitude with respect to names and dates, and 
what I write will not pass out of my posses- 
sion. 

" If it must be," he said, and proceeded to 
read from the document before him : 

" Adeline Ducroz was twenty-two or 
twenty-three years of age and was unhappy 
in her situation. She confided her troubles 
to Mr. Clifford, who pitied and sympathized 
with her, and when she asked him what she 
was to do, he advised her to leave her mis- 
tress and get another situation upon her 
arrival in New York. She followed only a 
part of this advice. She quitted service, and 
instead of seeking fresh employment, threw 
herself upon the protection of Mr. Clifford. 
Believinij himself to be in some dcOTee re- 
sponsible for her friendless position, he stood 
by her, and they lived together in New York 
for five months." 

" As man and wife ? " I asked. 



110 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" Surely the statement is sufficiently ex- 
plicit," replied Mr. Haldane. 

" Acting as a confidential agent," I urged, 
" it will be well to make things as clear as 
possible. They w^ere not married in 
church ? " 

" No, thev were not married in church." 

" By registrar ? " 

" No." 

" But they lived together in New York as 
man and wife ? " 

"Yes." 

"Publicly?" 

" Yes, I suppose we may say publicly." 

" She passing by the name of Ducroz or 
ClifTord ? " 

" By the name of Chfford." 

"Making purchases probably as Mrs. 
CHfTord ? " 

" Yes." 

" Mr. ClifTord paying debts which she 
incurred ? " 

" Yes." 

" Paying these debts by cheque ? " 



MR. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. Ill 

" Many of tliem." 

" I assume it would be easy to establish all 
these details by evidence ? " 

" No doubt." 

" You are aware," I said, " that Mr. Clifford 
and Miss Ducroz, living in the State of New 
York in these circumstances, were legally 
man and wife ? " 

" Mr, Clifford has heard some nonsense to 
that effect before, but he is an Englishman, 
living under English institutions." 

He paused, probably expecting me to con- 
test the question ; but I was not there to 
argue, and I was silent. Presently he turned 
asjain to the document. 

" At the end of this time they came together 
to England, and lived in various places, and 
visited the Continent. Disagreements, how- 
ever, started up between them, and they 
separated. I find," said Mr. Haldane, look- 
ing up from the document, " that this is all 
Mr. Clifford has written. You understand 
it?" 

" Yes," I replied, " it is very simple." 



112 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" The paper, then, may be destroyed," said 
Mr. Haldaiie, and he put it in the fire and 
watched it smoulder away. 

I thought the document brief enough, and 
its termination strangely sudden. I knew, 
however, that chents, as a rule, never tell 
the whole of the truth — only just as much 
as suits them, leaving you to guess the rest. 
It is a short-sighted policy, prompted by a 
common human weakness. 

" What I wish you to do," said Mr. Hal- 
dane, "on behalf of Mr. Chfford, is to 
ascertain the precise particulars of this 
woman's career and destiny after the separa- 
tion. Whatever funds are required to 
prosecute the inquiry will be suppHed by 
me, and I will give you now a cheque in 
advance." 

It was already written, and he detached it 
from his cheque book, and pushed it towards 
me. The amount was £200, "payable to 
bearer," and the cheque was not crossed. I 
thought the introduction of the word 
" destiny " in Mr. Haldane's last speech some- 



MR. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 113 

what peculiar, and I asked for an explanation 
of it. 

" Mr. Clifford believed," said Mr. Haldane, 
" that the woman died shortly after the 
separation." 

" Has he any reason now to believe that 
she is not dead ? " 

" A rumour has reached him, and that 
is why he desires the matter to be thoroughly 
sifted." 

" Is it only now that the rumour has 
reached him ? " 

" There was an attempt," replied Mr. 
Haldane, " some years ago to blackmail him 
in connection with this feature in the affair." 

" Did he resist it ? " 

" He did not ; he submitted to it." 

He did not furnish me with any particulars 
of this successful attempt to blackmail, and I 
did not ask him for them. The impression 
he produced upon me in the disclosures he 
had made was that he had presented me with 
a very imperfect skeleton of an important 
secret, and was purposely concealing from 
VOL. I. 8 



114 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

me mucli that would have naturally aided me 
in the task I had undertaken. However, that 
was his affair ; his conduct was foolish, but if 
anybody suffered it would be himself. There 
was one question, however, the answer to 
which would give me some sort of a starting 
point for my investigations. 

" In what part of England," I asked, " did 
Mr. Clifford and Miss Ducroz separate ? " 

"In no part of England. They were in 
Paris at the time." 

" Did they remain in Paris after the 
separation ? " 

"Mr. Clifford left for England immedi- 
ately." 

" And Miss Ducroz ? " 

" Eemained, I believe, in Paris." 

" I should like to know the name of the 
hotel they stopped at before the final dis- 
agreement." 

" I will endeavour to obtain it, and will 
send it on to London to you." 

After a few more words between us I 
wished Mr. Haldane good morning, and rose 



ME. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 115 

to go. Forgetting that the door was locked 
I tried the handle, and was aware that at the 
same moment some person was trying it from 
the outside. 

" Turn the key," said Mr. Haldane. 

I did so, and as I opened the door a 
gentleman entered the room with the obser- 
vation : 

" You're tiled in precious close, Haldane." 

I started at the voice. It was that of the 
gentleman who had met Honoria in Chudleigh 
Woods last night. He gave me a sharp look, 
and passed me, and as I had no possible 
excuse for lingering, I left the room, closing 
the door after me. 

I had matter for fresh thought now. This 
gentleman, whom Honoria called Austin, was 
a privileged visitor at the Hall ; his manner 
was that of one who was very much at home 
there. His unceremonious entrance into Mr. 
Haldane's room proclaimed this, and there 
was a freedom in his bearing which could 
only be accounted for on the assumption that 
he and his host were on the most intimate 

8* 



116 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

and familiar terms. But I was not quite 
satisfied with this assumption ; there seemed 
to me to be something more in their relations 
to each other — as indicated in the few words 
I heard Honoria's betrayer utter — something 
unrevealed, I was ready to place the worst 
construction on everything in connection 
with this <jfentleman ; the lisjlit in which 
he had presented himself in his interview 
with Honoria proved him to be heartless, 
ruthless, and cynical, and it was not likely 
that I should regard him with any favour. 
Especially disagreeable was the reflection 
that, being on such familiar terms with Mr. 
Haldane, he might be equally so with Eachel's 
young mistress. I had come to Chudleigh 
Park for something. Yesterday morning I 
was a free man, with scarcely a care, and in 
the full enjoyment of as many moderate 
pleasures as a reasonable being could wish 
for, and here was I now plunged into the 
heart of two mysteries, which were taking 
strong hold upon me. 

As I walked slowty through the park to 



ME. HALDANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF. 117 

the village, I heard hasty steps behind me. 
Turning, I saw Eachel endeavouring to over- 
take me, and I waited for her to come up. 
The sight of her bright, eager face was quite 
a relief. 

" As you are going away to morrow 
morning," she said, " I want to see as much 
as I can of you." 

" The want is mutual, my dear," I said ; 
" if you are bound for the village we will 
walk together." 

She was bound for the village, and we 
walked side by side, drawing each other out 
in honest fashion, I with a desire to learn 
what kind of daughter-in-law she would be 
to me, she with a desire to learn what kind 
of a father-in-law I would be to her. Our 
conversation ran chiefly upon George, and if 
ever a man's ears burnt, his must have been 
in a blaze. It was George this, George that, 
and George the other, as if he were in himself 
the sun, moon and stars. It was a theme 
upon which we perfectly agreed, and we 
should have continued speaking of it till we 



118 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

parted, had it not suddenly occurred to me 
that Rachel could give me some information 
of the gentleman I was thinking of when she 
joined me. So I turned the conversation 
upon the guests at the Hall, and the intimate 
friends of the Haldane familv. She went over 
the names of the gentlemen, but there was no 
Austin among them. Then, at my prompting, 
she gave me a description of their personal 
appearance till she came to one that answered 
to the person I was curious about. She 
described him to the life, and even mimicked 
his voice and gestures so cleverly that I 
looked at her in admiration. 

'• What is the name of this gentleman ? " I 
asked. 

" Mr. Eedwood." 

" Do you know his Christian name, 
Eachel?" 

" Louis," she replied. 



CHAPTER X. 

HONOEIA DISAPPEARS. 

Louis Redwood. If that was the man, and 
that his true name, he had been doubly 
treacherous to Honoria. That it was his true 
name I did not doubt, for it was scarcely 
likely that an intimate friend of the Ilaldanes 
would, or could successfully, masquerade in 
his visits to their home ; wdiereas, to deceive a 
girl as simple and credulous as Honoria was as 
easy as putting on a glove. My experiences in 
the office of Barlow and Co. had taught me not 
to rush too hastily at conclusions, and had, 
moreover, furnished me w^itli at least half-a- 
dozen instances of personal resemblance which 
had led to more or less remarkable complica- 
tions. I proceeded, therefore, to probe this 
particular matter more closely. Repeating 
the names of the guests at the Hall, as they 



120 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

had been mentioned to me by Eacliel, I pur- 
posely introduced the name of Austin. Eachel 
interrupted me. 

'• No," she said ; " there is no one there of 
that name." 

" I was thinking of another person," I said, 
and I finished the Hst correctly. " Mr. Red- 
wood appears to be a privileged visitor. He 
must be on very intimate terms at the Hall." 

" He is," said Eachel. 

" And is, I suppose, a favourite there." 

" Not with everybod3\ He and Mr. 
Haldane are together a great deal. I am not 
in love with him myself." 

" How about Miss Haldane ? " 

" Oh, no, not at all," said Eachel, in a 
decided tone. " Mr, Millington, I'll tell you 
something if you'll keep it to yourself." 

" You may depend I'll keep it to myself, 
my dear." 

" Well, Mr. Eedwood pays Miss Haldane a 
great deal of attention ; he rides out with her, 
he takes her in to dinner, and he sent to 
London for the most beautiful bouquet you 



HONORIA DISAPPEAKS. r21 

ever saw for the ball last nig-ht. I can't 
say whether Miss Haldane sees it as I do, but 
if ever a gentleman showed he was in love, 
Mr. Redwood is showini::^ it to her." 

" She confides in you, Eachel ? " 

" Yes, Mr. Millington, she does, but she 
doesn't tell me everything. The worst of it 
is Mr. Haldane is on Mr. Eedwood's side." 

" Perhaps," I hazarded, " it is by her father's 
persuasion that your young mistress accepts 
Mr. Redwood's attentions." 

" That's exactly it," said Rachel. 

" Mr. Redwood is rich, I suppose." 

" They say there is no end to his money. 
He lives in London, and gives grand joarties 
and keeps race horses." 

" Ah, a fashionable swell." I was familiar 
with the names of the gentlemen celebrated in 
the racing world, and I ran them over in my 
mind without meetimy with Mr. Redwood's. 
That was of no account, however, as he 
probably raced, like many others, under an 
assumed name. " You have forgotten to tell 
me something, Rachel." 



122 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" I don't think so, Mr. Millington." 
" Think a httle," I said with a smile. " We 
are talking about Miss Haldane, you know. 
Now, she is a very beautiful, sweet, and 
charming young lady. No wonder that Mr. 
Eedwood is in love with her. Why, there 
must be scores of others." 

" I don't say he is the only one." 
" It isn't in nature he should be — it isn't in 
nature he shouldn't have a rival." Eachel 
coloured up, and moved her head rather 
nervously this wa}^ and that. " Don't run 
away with the idea that I am poking my nose 
into secrets out of mere curiosity. It strikes 
me there's a pot on the fire with mischief in it, 
and with trouble in it as well, and who knows 
whether I mayn't be able to keep it from 
boiling over ? Trust me, Eachel, and just 
whisper whether Miss Haldane isn't in love 
with some one." 

" I will trust you, Mr. Millington, but it 
musn't go any further. She is." 

" I thought as much. Where is he ? " 

" Thousands and thousands of miles away." 



HONORIA DISAPPEARS. 123 

" And Mr. Eedwood has the field all to 
himself. A young gentleman, Eachel ? " 

" Yes." 

" Eich ? " 

" No. He went away to make his fortune, 
and then he is coming back to marry her." 

" Is this a secret arrangement between 
them ? " 

" Oh, no ; Mr. Haldane knows all about it." 

" How lono- has the voung crentleman been 
gone ? " 

*' Over a year." 

" And when is he expected back ? " 

" There's no saying. He hasn't been very 
fortunate up to now." 

" Meanwhile he and Miss Haldane corre- 
spond ? " 

" Of course they do." 

And meanwhile, I thought, Mr. Haldane is 
exertinf^ himself to brin"' about a match 
between his daughter and Mr. Louis Eedwood. 
In my opinion it was altogether a bad busi- 
ness. The union of the young girl with the 
plausible, treacherous man of the world could 



124 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

result in nothing but unliappiness to her. It 
was no business of mine, but I could not help 
wishing? I could do somethincr to save Miss 
Haldane from the pit that was being dug for 
her. It lay in my power, certainly, to dis- 
close Honoria's story to her, which would 
show the utter baseness of the man who was 
striving to win her affections, but would it be 
right for me to reveal a secret which by 
accident had come to my knowledge ? It was 
not as if I were one of the family ; I was 
an entire stranijer to all concerned in this 
unfortunate tangle of circumstances ; and 
if I did anything at all, the utmost caution 
must be observed. My cogitations did 
not lead to any satisfactory result ; they 
left me at the exact point I started from, 
and instead of wasting any more time 
upon useless speculation, I bent my mind 
upon the actual business which claimed my 
attention. When we arrived at the village 
Rachel left me with a promise that she 
would see me again before I went back to 
London. 



HONORIA DISAPPEARS. 125 

" I think Miss Haldane would like to see 
you, too," she said. 

" I shall be ready to wait on her at any 
moment," I replied. 

There was a little commission with which 
Miss Haldane had entrusted me, and which I 
had not attended to. This was to go to Mrs. 
Porter and pay her for the brooch and ear- 
rings which she alleged Honoria had stolen 
from her. It did not take long. I found 
Mrs. Porter much milder-tempered than she 
had been on the previous evening ; the night's 
reflections had probably shown her that it 
would not be exactly judicious to continue 
attacking Honoria's character with so power- 
ful a champion as Miss Haldane ready to 
defend her. When I had explained the 
purport of my visit, she said : 

" I'd rather not say anything more. Let 
bygones be bygones." 

But I felt it would be best to take the 
sting out of a woman who could not control 
her temper. 

" Miss Haldane insists that you shall be 



126 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

paid," I said. " What value do you place 
upon the ornaments ? Were they gold ? " 

This question brought a remarkably un- 
comfortable expression into her face, and I 
laughed to myself, convinced from her manner 
that the articles were brass, and that she 
inew they were. 

" I bought 'em for gold," she said. 

" Or o'ilt," I sufjs^ested. 

" Or gilt," she acquiesced. "I ain't much 
of a judge." 

Inquiring how much she had given for 
them, she named a sum which proved the 
quality of the lost treasure. Gold brooch 
and earrings are not to be purchased for 
eleven shillings. I wrote out a receipt for 
the money, which I insisted upon her signing. 

" Now, Mrs. Porter," I said, " I will give you 
a little sensible advice and a little information. 
The jewellery was brass, what they call pinch- 
beck : you could not else have bouo-ht them 
for ten times eleven shillings. I don't 
blame you for telling your neighbours they 
were gold ; it was a piece of pardonable 



HONORIA DISAPPEARS. 127 

vanit}'. The tramp who stole them from you 
tried to pawn them, I dare say, and discovered 
that they were worthless. You have signed a 
receipt and have got the money, and if you 
ever say another word against Honoria you 
will be made to suffer for it. There's a 
heavy punishment for libel." 

" I'll never open my lips about her," said 
the frightened woman. " I only wish I'd 
never set eyes upon her." 

" From what I have heard," I said severely, 
" you have reason to be thankful for it. Miss 
Haidane paid you liberally." 

And having done my best to clear Honoria's 
character, I left Mrs. Porter a wiser, if not a 
better woman. 

At " The Brindled Cow " a surprise awaited 
me, in the shape of a telegram from George. 

"The young woman has vanished. Letter 
to-morrow. 

" George." 

If this meant anything, it meant that 



128 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

Honoria had taken lier departure from my 
house without George's knowledge, and that 
I should receive a letter in the morning 
explaining matters. 

I was not greatly surprised at Honoria's 
disappearance. From a young woman in 
her position, w^ith a mind so ill-regulated, 
anything might be expected. There was no 
special reason why she should trust me. 
True, I had been kind to her, but so must 
Mr. Eedwood have been during the early 
days of their acquaintanceship. He had 
deceived her, why not I? The very story I 
had related of Miss Haldane's anxious desire 
to befriend her miirht, in her view, have been 
trumped up. I might even have been an 
emissary employed by Mr. Eedwood to 
further entangle her and secure her silence. 
All these conjectures were feasible, and I 
could find no fault with Ilonoria for enter- 
taining them, if any such conjectures had led 
to her flying from my house as she had flown 
from the Hall. My chief concern was for 
Miss Haldane, who must be told of the occur- 



HONOKIA DISAPPEARS. 129 

rence, and whose kind intentions were to be 
frustrated. 

I had ordered dinner for five o'clock, and 
it was now three. What should I do to 
beguile the intervening couple of hours ? 
There was no Simpson handy, with whom I 
could play bagatelle and cross-purposes at 
one and the same time. Chudleigh Woods 
held out temptations for a ramble, and to 
Chudleigh Woods I went. 

Wandering through its lovely mazes, I 
should probably have been late for dinner 
had I not heard approaching footsteps. 
Bending forward I saw coming towards me 
Mr. Louis Eedwood and my good friend 
Simpson. I stepped aside, so as to be out of 
sight, and they passed without seeing me. I 
made no attempt to follow them, fearing I 
might be discovered, but the association of 
these two men seemed to be another link in 
the chain of circumstances in which I was 
now involved. Without being able to hear a 
word that was spoken, there were indications 
that Mr. Eedwood was laying down the law 
VOL. I. 9 



130 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

to his companion, who was hstening with 
humble attention. Was Simpson, then, Mr. 
Eedwood's creature, in his pay ? I had 
learned from Eachel that he had been in Mr. 
Haldane's service many years, and although 
Mr, Haldane and Mr. Redwood were friends, 
I had observed somethini? in the latter gentle- 
man's manner, when he entered the library 
after my interview with Mr. Haldane, which 
seemed to denote a sense of mastership. If 
my impression — which I admit was formed 
upon a very slender foundation — were 
correct, there was a traitorous touch in this 
secret interview in Chudleigh Woods between 
Mr. Haldane's friend and Mr. Haldane's con- 
fidential valet. For secret interview it was. 
I had come to the Woods for pleasure — not 
so the}'. Simpson's smug face was serious, 
and Mr. Eedwood's not less so. Here was I, 
mixed up in plots and counterplots which, to 
all appearance, revolved round the fate and 
fortunes of two young girls, Miss Haldane and 
Honoria. Slowly and thoughtfully I walked to 
the village and entered the " Brindled Cow." 



CHAPTER XI. 

SIMPSON PERSEVEKES. 



And there, at the bar, was Simpson, smooth, 



smuCT, and smilin"". 

" I've been looking everywhere for you," 
he said, " and wondering where you had 
gone to." 

" I've been killing time," I said, " for want 
of something better to do." 

" Mooning about," said Simpson, with 
a wink. " You mustn't come breaking 
our women's hearts with your London 
ways. Upon my soul, Millington, it's hardly 
fair." 

"Get along with you," I said jocosely, 
entering into his humour ; if he could play 
his game, I could play mine, " I'm the father 
of a family. You're only a boy compared 
with me." 

9* 



132 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

After I had dined I found Simpson still 
hanging about the inn, and I proposed a 
walk. 

" Where to ? " he inquired. 

" Anywhere," I answered. 

"Let's go to the woods," he suggested. 
" I'll show you where that murder was com- 
mitted." 

He took me to the spot. It was a cruel 
murder, that of a young girl ; you read of 
such in to-day's newspapers ; and like too 
many deeds of this description, the monster who 
perpetrated it had never been caught. As 
Simpson pioneered me through the woods I ob- 
served that he cast covert and curious glances 
at me, the object of which was to discover if 
the place was quite new to me. Any sign of 
familiarity from me would have been a con- 
fession that I had met Honoria there last 
night. I was careful to give none, and 
Simpson went away no wiser than he came. 
Had I been a nervous man I should have had 
dreams on this night, but I am by constitution 
strong and healtlw, and I enjoyed a dream- 



SIMPSON PEKSEVEKES. 133 

less sleep of eight good hours, and rose early 
enough in the morning to be standing at the 
door of the " Brindled Cow " when the local 
postman came up with the letters. There 
w^ere two, one for the landlord, and one 
for me, from George. It was short and to 
the point : 

" Dear Father, — 

" My telegram will have told you 
the news. The young woman you brought 
home has gone. How she went and when 
she went I cannot say. All I know is that I 
waited in the house till one o'clock, when I 
thought it time to give her a call. I went to 
her door and knocked over and over again. 
There was no answer. ' What's wrong ? ' 
thought I, and I tried the door. It was un- 
locked, and 2:oinCT into the room, it was 
empty. At whatever time she went she must 
have crept away like a cat. I searched 
about, and found a paper, wdiicli I enclose. 
Hope to see your old face to-morrow. The 
house isn't the same without you in it. 



134 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

Give my love to Eacliel, and say I am all 
rioht. 



o 



Your affectionate son 



" George." 

The paper George referred to was an 
envelope, containing an enclosure. I drew it 
out and read : 

" Austin, — 

" I am going to put an end to myself, 
and you have driven me to it. You are my 
murderer. You have ruined and deserted 
me, and I have nothing to live for. Be kinder 
to the next girl you bring to shame than you 
have been to 

" HOXORIA." 

It was the paper which she had written on 
the bridoe last nif^ht, before endeavourinfj to 
carry out her wretched intention. I made a 
memorandum of the incident and of the 
circumstances under which the paper came 
into my possession, and having dated and 



SIMPSON PERSEVERES. 135 

signed it, put it in my pocket-book. It M^as, 
as I was aware, legally useless, but it was, at 
least, moral evidence against Mr. Louis 
Eedwood, if at any time in the future its 
production would assist towards any good 
end. Honoria must have dropped it by 
accident in my room, otherwise it could not 
have fallen into George's hands. 

There was nothing left for me to do in 
Chudleigh except to see Miss Haldane if she 
wished, and to take leave of Eachel, so I got 
my breakfast over quickl}", and settled my 
bill ai the " Brindled Cow." 

My observation of the village and its 
inhabitants convinced me that it and they 
were under the absolute domination of Mr. 
Haldane. All the surrounding property and 
every house on it belonged to him ; no leases 
w^ere granted ; the villagers were yearly 
tenants, liable to be turned away at any time. 
The power wielded by the master of the 
estate was autocratic. Thinking of this as I 
strolled towards the park, looking out for 
Eachel, some remarks made by Simpson 



136 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

came to my mind : " This is a fine park, isn't 
it ? Wish it was mine, without any mort- 
gages on it. Mortgages are the very devih 
A man may be the master of a great estate, 
and it may be no better than a white 
elephant." There is never smoke without 
fire, and these words, for which there must 
be some foundation, seemed to indicate that 
Mr. Haldane's tenure was not as safe as it 
appeared to be. " Has he been borrowing- 
money of Mr. Louis Eedwood ? " I asked 
mvself. 

Tliere was Eachel coming^ to meet me. 
Wliat greatly impressed me in favour of 
Georo;e's sweetheart were her cheerfulness 
and briskness. I saw that they were natural 
to her, and that her disposition and good 
temper would brighten a home. Good heart, 
clear eye, brisk movement, pleasant voice, 
white teeth, pretty face, compact figure — 
what more could any father wish for in a 
wife for the son he loved ? Add to this, 
common-sense, and you get verj^ close to 
perfection. 



SIMPSON PERSEVERES. 137 

Of course, after bidding me good morning, 
her first question was : 

" Have you heard from George ? " 
" I have, my dear, and there's news in his 
letter. Honoria has disappeared again." 
" 0, dear ! But you know where she is ? " 
" Not the sHghtest idea. She left without 
a word, and without George seeing her." 
" I'm not sorry for that," said EacheL 
"George says she must have crept away 
like a cat." 

" Is that all he says ? " 
"Nothincf more about Honoria." 
" But about anybody else ? " 
" Will be glad when I get home again." 
" I wonder," said Eachel, " will he be such 
a tease as you are ? The idea of you trying 
to make me believe that he could write you a 
letter without saying a word about me ! " 

" What a forgetful old father-in law I shall 

make. There is something about you. Here 

it is. ' Give my love to Eachel, and say I 

am all right.' I hope that is satisfactory?" 

" I shall not tell you," she said saucily ; " I 



138 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

shall tell George. Now come and see Miss 
Haldane." 

The 3^oung lady was in the tennis-court 
giving instructions to a gardener, whom she 
left directly she saw me. As briefly as 
possible, for my time was running short, I 
related what had occurred, making, however, 
no reference to what Honoria had written on 
the bridge. Miss Haldane was visibly 
distressed at the news. 

" But what is to be done, Mr. Miliington ? " 
she asked. 

" Nothing," I replied, " except to wait and 
hear from Honoria. If she writes to me I am 
ready, as I told her, to do anything I can to 
assist her. iShe thoroughly understands that 
you are her friend, and whether she will 
allow us to aid her depends now upon her- 
self." 

" Honoria is proud," said Miss Haldane, 
" and the cruel accusation broufj^ht ajrainst 
her by Mrs. Porter before all the people, and 
the way she was treated by our servants here 
— I have heard something of that, Mr. 



SIMPSON PERSEVERES. 139 

Millington — may have had a bad effect upon 
her. She may look upon us as her enemies. 
Poor Honoria ! If she does not write, will 
you try and find her ? " 

" I promise faithfully I will. There is one 
good thing — she is not without means. She 
has the money you gave me for her, and she 
cannot want for a few weeks. I must bid 
you good-morning, Miss Haldane ; I have to 
catch a train." 

" I will not detain 3'ou ; but I owe you 
some money. You paid Mrs. Porter some- 
thing, did you not ? I was almost forgetting 
it. Pray do not leave out anything or I shall 
never dare to ask you to do me another 
service. It must liave been an expensive 
journey to London and back, and please 
remember that I have plenty of money." 

I pencilled some figures and added them 
up, and she handed me the amount, amply 
repaying me for my trouble by thanking me 
cordially and shaking hands with me. 

" I can spare you, Eacliel," she said to her 
maid, with an affectionate smile. " You can 



140 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

go with Mr. Millington to the station if you 
wish." 

" Thank you, miss," said Eachel, and we 
were presently in the park. 

" I shall be here again in a few weeks," I 
said to Eachel, " perhaps sooner. I am doing 
some private business for Mr. Haldane, but it 
must not be known that anything of that kind 
brings me here." 

" I shall not speak about it," said Eachel, 
" but I should like to ask you something." 

" What is it, my dear ? I'll answer if I 
can." 

*' Is the private business anything to do 
with Miss Haldane ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Or with Mr. Eedwood ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Thank you. That is all I want to 
know." 

Then we fell to upon our pet theme — 
George — and chatted amicably and pleasantly 
till we were about half-way to the station, 
when I stopped. 



SIMPSON PERSEVERES. 141 

" We'll say good-bye here, Rachel." 

" But I'm coming to see you off." 

" No, my dear. If I'm not mistaken I shall 
have another person to see me off, if he 
doesn't waylay me before I get to the station, 
and I should prefer that he doesn't see us too 
much together." 

" Who is the other person ? " 

" Simpson. He has taken a violent liking 
to me." 

" Has he ? " said Rachel with sudden alarm. 
" Anything to do with Mr. Haldane's private 
business ? " 

" No, my dear, though he wouldn't have 
the slightest objection to having his finger in 
the pie." 

"That's Mr. Simpson all over. Always 
poking and prying about. Don't trust him, 
Mr. Millington." 

" I don't intend to, and I'll give you three 
good reasons why." 

" Well ? " 

"First, he is as sly as a weasel." 

" Yes, he is, Mr. Millington." 



142 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" Second, he is as cunning as a fox." 

"Yes, he is." 

" Third, he resembles a limpet in his stick- 
ing qualities." 

" Yes, he does," said Rachel, laughing. 

" Now, I don't like weasels or foxes or 
limpets ; and when a gentleman " 

" Oh, no," protested Eachel ; " not a 
gentleman ! " 

" When an individual, then, combines 
all the bad qualities of these three crea- 
tures in his own person, I like him still 
less. But at the same time, my dear, I 
don't tell him so. Rachel, it occurs to me 
that you might write me a letter now and 
then." 

" I shall never know what to say ! " said 
Eachel. 

" If you have nothing to say, don't write. 
But something may happen that it would be 
as well for me to know. There's no telling 
whether I might not be of assistance in the 
case of a difficulty." 

"Do you mean about Miss Haldane ? " 



SIMPSON PEES E VERES. 143 

" You've hit it, my dear." 

" And Mr. Eedwood ? " 

" You've hit it again, my dear." 

"And about the young gentleman " 

she paused here, and I took up her words. 

" Who's trying to make a fortune over the 
water ? You've hit it for the third time, my 
dear." 

" I think I understand you," said Kachel, 
with a thoughtful look in her bright eyes ; 
" and I will write to you if there's any 
occasion." 

" It's a bargain," I said, patting her 
shoulder ; " and what's more, it's a con- 
fidential matter between you and me that 
we'll keep to ourselves. The only other 
person I shall admit into our confidence is 
George. Good bye, my dear." 

We kissed each other, and I strode to the 
railway station with a feeling of gladness that 
my visit to Chudleigh had turned out so well, 
as resfards George and his sweetheart. The 
prospect in other quarters was not so 
cheering. 



144 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

As I anticipated, Simpson was on the plat- 
form waiting for me. 

" Couldn't let you go, Millington, without 
a parting hand-shake," said he. 

" It would have been very unfriendly," said 
I, " if you hadn't come to see the last of 
me. 

" Not the last of you, I hope," said he. 

" Speaking figuratively, Simpson, it's quite 
on the cards you'll see a good deal more of 
me. 

" Oh, yes, in London." 

" Here in Chudleigh as well. Can you 
keep a secret ? " 

" Close as the grave." 

" I am thinking of investing in land about 
here. A few spare thousands — couldn't do 
better with 'em. Don't blab, or the prices 
will run up. Mum's the word." 

I put my finger to my lips, jumped into the 
train, and left him staring at me. Weasel, 
fox, and limpet as he was, he was rather slow 
in making up his mind. 



TLbc Second Xinft— SuppUet) b^ /iDr. Barlow, 
private Jnquirg, Surrey Street, MC- 



CHAPTER XII. 

ME. BAELOW. 

In the railway carriage I turned my serious 
attention to the commission I had undertaken 
for Mr. Haldane, namely, to trace the history 
of Adeline Ducroz after she and Julius 
Clifford had separated in Paris ; and it was 
only then that I properly estimated the 
extreme barrenness of the information he had 
— grudgingly, as it seemed to me — doled out. 

First, the names of the two principal actors 
in a drama which certainly could not claim 
the merit of originality. 

Second, the name of the steamer in which 
these actors made the voyage to New York. 

Third, the year, but not the month, of the 
vessel's departure and arrival. 

VOL. I. 10 



146 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

Fourth, some vague particulars of the 
state of affairs when Miss Ducroz and Mr. 
CUfFord met on board the Circassian and of 
the life the couple led in the States and 
elsewhere. 

Nothing more. 

Mr. Haldane's method of imparting the 
story to me did not increase my respect 
for him. It was a shuffling, evasive, vacil- 
lating kind of method, which innocent or 
strong-minded men never employ, and it did 
not blind me in the least. I even began 
to question how much of the story was 
true, and how much of it false, but I soon 
put a stop to this mental debate, knowing 
that to commit myself to definite conclusions 
upon evidence so entirely circumstantial 
would be likely to mislead me. Long before 
I reached London I had come to the end of 
my deliberations, and was dissatisfied with 
the result. George saw this dissatisfaction 
expressed in my face upon my arrival home, 
but was ignorant of its cause. I asked him 
about Honoria, but he had nothing to add to 



ME. BAELOW. 147 

the information lie had given me in his letter. 
She had disappeared, that was all he knew ; 
the sitting-room she had occupied was in 
perfect order, and it really became a doubtful 
point whether she was in the house in the 
morning when I took my departure for 
Chudleigh Park. 

" Have you made any inquiries in the 
neio'hbourhood ? " I asked. 

" No," replied George, " I thought it best 
to do nothing till you came home, unless you 
telegraphed to the contrary. The paper I 
found in the room in wdiich she speaks of 
committing suicide gave me a terrible turn, 
and I didn't know what to make of it. I 
should have gone straight to the police if I 
hadn't been afraid of making things worse, 
and if I hadn't remembered what you told 
me of the girl. ' Best leave it to dad,' I 
thought ; ' he'll be sure to do the right 
thing.' " 

"I'm not so sure myself," I said, "but I'm 
glad you kept quiet. I don't think there's 
much fear of Honoria doing any harm to 

10* 



148 THE 3IARCH OF FATE. 

herself. The fit has passed off, and she has 
money in her pocket to help her along ; 
and when that's gone she knows where to 
come for more. I don't want to lose sight 
of her if I can help it, but I've an idea that 
it depends more upon her than upon me 
whether I set eyes on her again. 

I spent a quiet evening, thinking of what 
was before me, and the longer I thought 
the more convinced did I become that it 
would be folly for me even to commence the 
task I had undertaken single-handed. In 
such inquiries certain machinery is necessary 
which I had not at my command. Where 
was such machinery to be met with ? Where 
else but in the firm of Barlow & Co., of which 
I was once a partner. And what more able 
man could I ask to assist me, to take, indeed, 
command of the ship, than Mr. Barlow 
himself? The moment I decided to call him 
in I felt relieved, and before I went to bed 
I posted a note to him, asking him to come 
to see me the following evening at half-past 
seven for the double purpose of business and 



MR. BARLOW. 149 

pleasure. " It is important business," I 
wrote, " and there will be a bit of supper at 
half-past nine." 

My letter posted, George and I stopped up 
later than usual, and I did not consider it a 
breach of confidence to tell him something of 
what had occurred at Chudleio;h Park and 
the Manor House, and what had passed 
between me and Mr. Haldane. I did not 
reveal everything ; it would not have been 
prudent ; therefore he did not know that 
*' Austin," to whom Honoria had so despair- 
ingly written, and Mr. Eedwood were one 
person. He was rather curious about 
Simpson, whose acquaintance, I said, he 
would probably have an opportunity of 
making, as that worthy had promised to pay 
me a visit when he came to London. What- 
ever subject we spoke upon took unfailingly 
one direction, Eachel, and I dare say he 
dreamt of her when he went to bed. My 
dreams were of Honoria, who w^as the most 
vivid bit of colour in the picture which the 
last two or three days had presented to me. 



150 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

At ten o'clock the following morning I 
received a telegram from Mr. Barlow, to the 
effect that he would be with me at half-past 
seven in the evening. He is the most 
methodical being I have ever met with, and 
the records he keeps of the cases in which he 
is engaged are models of precision. They are 
sometimes more than that ; they are literary 
models — for which he has a special reason. 
With a conscientious regard for the profession 
— he insists upon calling it a " profession " — in 
which he is engaged, and sternly refusing to 
have anything to do with disreputable cases, 
Mr. Barlow is fired with an ambition to 
become an author, and has confided to me 
that at some future time, when he has retired, 
as I have done, from active business, it is his 
intention, without mentioning names or 
betraying confidence, to use in a literary 
wa}^ some of the experiences he has gained 
in the " profession " he has practised for 
a great number of vears. His discretion 
may be relied upon, and if he carries out 
his intentions the interesting result may find 



MK. BAELOW. 151 

a place by-and-bye on the book and railway 
stalls. 

Punctually at half-past seven he made his 
appearance in Shepherd's Bush, and George, 
after the first friendly salutations, left us 
alone, having received the cue from me. 

There was a jug of beer on the table, and 
pipes and tobacco, and when the pipes were 
set going we began to talk about the business 
which had brought us together. I com- 
menced by telling him of George's love 
affair, and went on to the letter I received 
from Mr. Haldane, and how it was because I 
wanted to see George's sweetheart that I 
went down to Chudleigh Park. I related 
evervthinj;^ that occurred there, and Mr. 
Barlow sat and puffed and moistened his lips 
with the beer, and never interrupted me once. 
This was his way ; to hear the story right 
through, and then to take it to pieces. I was 
altogether different from him ; my impatience 
always got the better of me, and I felt 
myself forced to interrupt the speaker, with 
questions and observations. Mr. Barlow's 



152 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

face was a mask, and j^ou could never guess 
what was going on inside of him. I was a Uttle 
disappointed that he could be so impassive 
with me, and when I had finished all I had to 
say, I told him so. 

" It's habit, Millington," he said, " nothing 
more ; don't worry about it. I drop the 
professional, and resume the friendly. Here's 
to you and yours, with my best wishes for 
George and his sweetheart. I shall expect 
to be invited to the wedding." He buried his 
face in the jug, and took a long draught. 
*' And now for a chat. You've told me what 
has surprised me, though I didn't shew it ; 
before we're done, you'll hear what'U surprise 
you. It's a queer story all round, and likely 
to be queerer as it goes on ; we're only on 
the surface as j^et. Honoria, now — she comes 
in by a side door, so to speak, commences 
with a small part. Wonder whether the 
character will grow ! No, nothing uncommon 
about her, but something remarkably un- 
common about this Mr. Clifford and Miss 
Ducroz, and something' still more uncommon 



MK. BARLOW. 153 

that we — partners once, friends always — 
should be engaged in this afiair." 

"I don't see what you are driving at," I 
said. 

" You'll see soon. Carry your mind back. 
When you w^ere in the office we did some 
business for Mr. Haldane." 

" I remember we did, but it was entirely in 
your hands. I was not acquainted with the 
particulars." 

" IS^either was I," said Mr. Barlow. " It 
orio^inated in letters he had received — threat- 
ening letters — and he didn't show them to me. 
As well as I could make out some one 
demanded money under threats of exposure 
about something or other, and Mr. Haldane 
had made up his mind to pay the money to this 
agent, to save trouble, he said. He was as 
mysterious to me in his communications years 
ago as he was to you only yesterday or the 
day before. I never pry, MilHngton, when I 
find it's not to a client's taste ; the responsi- 
bihty is his, not mine. What I am asked to 
do, and paid to do, in the way of business, I 



154 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

do if I can, and there's an end of it as far as 
I am concerned. But would you consider it 
strange if the affair he entrusted to you a day 
or two since has anything to do with the 
affair he entrusted to the firm a good many 
years ago ? " 

" I should." 

" I shouldn't. The world is full of open 
graves. We're in confidence. What passes in 
this room is under seal. You are engaged to 
discover all about Adeline Ducroz after 
Julius Clifford left her in Paris towards the 
end of the year 1867. I am engaged to 
discover all about Julius Clifford from that 
year to this." 

" You are joking," I said, greatly surprised 
by this singular disclosure. 

" Not at all. The affair was placed in my 
hands three weeks ago, and I have already 
made progress. It is a curious coincidence, 
and will lead to developments. I have some- 
thing still more strange to disclose. In this 
search I have two clients, who appear to be 
working independently of each other. Let 



MR. BARLOW. 155 

US argue the matter out, and, up to a certain 
point, join forces. It will save waste of 
power. What do you say ? " 

" I say, agreed." 

" And I say, agreed. I will be as frank 
with you as you have been with me, and so 
that there shall be no confusion I will speak 
of my clients separately, as client number 
one and client number two. It is just twenty- 
two days since client number one introduced 
himself to me, saying that he had come upon 
recommendation, having heard a high opinion 
of me. He wished to place some business in 
my hands, and I accepted the commission. 
Some of the particulars given to me tally with 
some of the particulars given to you. For 
instance the names of two persons, Mr. Julius 
Clifford and Miss Adeline Ducroz. Also the 
name of the steamer in which these two 
persons travelled to New York — the Circassia. 
Also, the date of the departure of this ship, 
my information being more exact than yours, 
the month being named as well as the year, 
March, 1867. Also, the circumstance of 



156 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

Mr. ClifTord and Miss Ducroz — I will keep 
those names for the sake of clearness — living 
together in New York as man and wife. Also, 
their return to England, and their being 
together in Paris. Also, the circumstance of 
Mr. Clifford leaving the lady in Paris, and 
returning, presumabl}^, to England, concerning 
which place of return my instructions are not 
precise. So far, the bare bones of the case 
presented to you and presented to me. In 
other important respects, upon which my 
information is fuller than yours, there are 
serious and important discrepancies, of which 
you shall presently judge. No instructions 
were given to me to trace Miss Ducroz, my 
mission being to trace Mr. Clifford ; by which 
I infer that my client knows where the lady 
is to be found, as your client, I presume 
knows where the gentleman is to be found. 
You agree with me upon this last point." 

" Certainly." 

" Now, mark. Client number one does not 
inform me what he intends to do when he 
knows where to lay hands on Mr. Clifford. 



MR. BARLOW. 157 

All he says is ' Discover him, and tell me 
where he is to be found,' and no further 
instructions are given to me at present." 

"Have you succeeded in discovering Mr. 
Clifford ? " I asked. 

" Up to the hour I closed my office to-day 
I have not succeeded in discovering him. 
For the present I dismiss client number one, 
and come to client number two. This day 
week he sent in his card, and was shown into 
my private room. ' Mr. Barlow,' he said. ' I 
am Mr. Barlow,' I answered. ' I wished to see 
you personally because I prefer to do with 
principals," said he. ' I want you to ascertain 
for me all that it is possible to ascertain of a 
lady and gentleman from about the year 1867 ' 
— mark the year, Millington — ' to the present 
day. Will that be difficult ? ' 'It depends,' 
I said, 'upon circumstances. 1867 is a long 
way back. You must give me a starting 
point.' ' I will tell you as much as I know 
myself,' said he, ' and perhaps you will say it 
is very little. But the greater the trouble the 
greater the charge, I suppose.' ' That is 



158 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

the case,' I said, ' and I should require a sum 
in hand for prehminary expenses.' ' You can 
have anything in reason,' he said, and I fancied 
he looked down on me rather. This fancy 
getting into my head I was half inclined to 
decline the commission there and then, but I 
thought it would look unprofessional, and 
that I would carry it a little further before I 
refused it. ' The names of the parties ? ' I 
asked. Imagine my surprise when he 
answered, ' Mr. Clifford — I am not sure about 
the first name — and Miss Ducroz — I am not 
sure about hers.' 'Anymore particulars?' 
I enquired. He consulted a paper, and said, 
' Some time during that year they had rooms 
in Norfolk Street, Strand ; and some time 
during that year they went to America in a 
steamer called the Circassia. That is about 
the extent of my knowledge.' ' You can 
leave the matter with me,' I said, ' and I will 
see what can be done.' That was all that 
passed between us, except that he put 
twenty pounds in bank notes on the table 
before he went away, and that I said if 



MR. BARLOW. 159 

any of the money was spent I would give 
him an account of it, and that if nothing was 
done he should have the twenty pounds back. 
Now, Millington, what do you think is the 
name of client number two ? " 

" How is it possible for me to guess ? " I 
said. 

"Considering you know the gentleman," 
replied Mr. Barlow, "it is quite possible. His 
card bears the name of Mr. Louis Redwood, 
Honoria's friend." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

AN OLD STORY. 

This was strange news indeed. What did all 
this hunting down mean, each huntsman, 
without the other's knowledge, after the 
same quarry ? I could find no words to 
express my astonishment, and I gazed in 
silence at the shrewd face of Mr. Barlow. 

Presently he spoke. " I have not made up 
my mind what I shall do about Mr. Eed wood's 
commission, but I shall probably throw it up 
in the course of this week. You have let in 
light upon his character, and I don't care to 
work for scoundrels. He means mischief, 
depend upon it." 

" To whom ? " 

" To Mr. Clifford," rephed Mr. Barlow, with 
a meaning glance at me, " and to Miss Ducroz 
as well, most likely. It is a lively tangle, and 
there are black sheep in it. Mr. Haldane has 



AN OLD STORY. 161 

given you one version of the story of Mr. 
Clifford and Miss Ducroz ; I will give you 
another. Fill your pipe, and settle yourself 
comfortably ; it will take a little time to tell 
properly." 

Before I proceed to narrate what Mr. 
Barlow imparted to me, I must remind my 
readers of his literary proclivities. With a 
view to future reputation as an author he 
cultivates a style of his own, and whenever 
he gets the chance of putting the pieces of a 
puzzle together, and of weaving a story out 
of them, he makes the most of his oppor- 
tunities in the way of embellishments. I must 
do him the justice to say that his ingenuity 
is kept within bounds by his common sense 
and his knowledge of human character. 
With these preliminary remarks I will let him 
speak for himself. 

" Some twenty years ago there lived, down 
Oxford way, a married couple of the name of 
Kennedy. What their actual circumstances 
were I cannot say, but they lived in fair style,, 
and were held in good repute. Mr. Kennedy 

VOL. I. 11 



162 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

was an easy-going gentleman, and his wife an 
amiable, kind-hearted, and charitable lady. 
They had no children of their own, but liad 
adopted a child, the orphan daughter of a 
distant relative. The name of this girl was 
Adeline Ducroz, who, at the time I am 
speaking of, was somewhat over twenty years 
of age. She was a high-spirited young lady, 
fond of gaiety and pleasure, and rather 
difficult to control, and this, perhaps, was the 
reason why, when she grew to womanhood, 
she did not get along as well as she might 
with the good people who had brought her 
up. Although Mrs. Kennedy had strict ideas 
as to propriety of conduct she had not suffi- 
cient strength of character to exercise proper 
control over a young, impressionable, and 
excitable woman. Nothing serious, however, 
occurred between them until the appearance 
upon the scene of a gentleman whose ac- 
quaintance Miss Ducroz had accidentally made 
outside the family circle. As to the manner 
in which this acquaintanceship was formed 
there is some ambiguity, but none whatever 



AN OLD STORY. 163 

in his prosecution of the intimacy. He and 
Miss Ducroz met frequently, but he did not 
come to Mr. Kennedy's house, which in 
itself was enough to throw doubt upon the 
honesty of his intentions. A little while after 
this was discovered Mrs. Kennedy remon- 
strated with Adeline, and made remarks upon 
the impropriety of clandestine meetings which 
the young lady resented. There were other 
features in the intimacy which alarmed the 
Kennedys. The gentleman was a stranger in 
the neighbourhood, and Adeline refused to 
disclose his name. It was evident that she 
was acting under his instructions, and that he 
had obtained a certain mastery over her. Mr. 
Kennedy might have sought him out for the 
purpose of forcing an explanation from him, 
but it unfortunately happened at this period 
that his entire attention was claimed by the 
state of his worldly affairs. Speculations 
into which he had entered had turned out 
disastrously, and after satisfying the demands 
made upon him he found himself almost 
beggared. He was compelled to give up his 

11* 



164 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

home in Oxford, and, pending arrangements lie 
was endeavouring to make for a new home and 
a fresh start in life, he came to London with 
his wife and adopted daughter, and took 
lodgings in Brixton. This might have proved 
a blessing to the young lady had it caused a 
break in her intimacy with her gentleman 
friend, but no such break occurred. Within 
a few days of their arrival in London he made 
his appearance again, and he and Adeline 
continued to meet. Again did Mrs. Kennedy 
remonstrate, to as little purpose as before. 
' If he is courting you honestly,' said Mrs. 
Kennedy, ' let him come here to our home and 
yours.' It was of no avail. Adeline's lover 
did not present himself, and things went on in 
this miserable way until Mr. Kennedy's 
arrangements were completed for a fresh 
start. When Adeline was told that the new 
home was to be established in America, in 
one of the Western States, she was dumb- 
foundered. ' I cannot go,' she cried. ' I will 
not go ! * 

" I must make a break here," said Mr. 



AN OLD STORY. 165 

Barlow, " to say a few words on my own 
account. I don't expect you to believe, 
Millington, that everything I put into the 
mouths of the characters who play their parts 
in this drama of real life is exactly what was 
said by them, but without some such con- 
jectural remarks and some such conjectural 
dialogue the drama would be incomplete. I 
am simply doing what is done in a trial built 
up on circumstantial evidence, building up 
my case. I do not pretend that Adeline 
said, ' I cannot go ; I will not go ' ; but the 
words, in their effect, are as near as you can 
get (no reporter being present to take them 
down) when she said she would not go to 
America with Mr. and Mrs. Kenned}^, and in 
my opinion they portray the scene faithfully. 
Nor do I pretend to state exactly what 
passed between her and Mr. Clifford. You 
will hear something more of these interviews 
before I have finished. In such a story as I 
am telling, from instructions and information 
I have received, we must be guided by our 
common sense. It is a fact that at first 



106 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

Adeline did refuse to go, and it is a fact that 
during the three weeks that elapsed between 
the day that the Kennedys announced that 
they were going to America and the day they 
embarked on board the Circassia, Mr. Clifford 
made himself scarce— in plainer terms, that 
he and Adeline had no further clandestine 
meetings. Whether he had made proposals 
to Adeline to which she would not consent, 
or whether he was tired of his pursuit of her, 
I will not now state, but it is undeniably 
true that he was following the young lady 
with base intentions, and that she, believing 
in the honourable professions which such men 
make in such adventures, did not see through 
him until the hour arrived when he made 
plain proposals from which she shrank. You 
perceive, therefore, that I believe that, up to 
this time, Adeline was a virtuous girl — weak, 
of course, but still virtuous. For it was on 
the evening of this very day that she said to 
Mrs. Kennedy, after coming from a meeting 
with her lover, that she hoped they would 
forgive her, and that she would go with them 



AN OLD STORY. 167 

to the new home across the seas. So a peace 
was patched up, and preparations made for 
departure, during which my gentleman did 
not put in an appearance. 

" Their astonishment, therefore," continued 
Mr. Barlow, " was all the greater when they 
saw him on board the Circassia as the vessel 
was steaming out of the Mersey. Mrs, 
Kennedy knew who it was by the heightened 
colour in Adeline's face, and by the look of 
joy which Hashed into her eyes when they fell 
upon him. There was sadness in Mrs. 
Kennedy's ej^es, and her face paled, as she 
realized the situation. ' Introduce us,' she 
said to Adeline, and the young lady went 
and spoke to him, and came back, saying 
that he would rather not be introduced, as 
she had thrown doubts upon his honour. 
That was rather a lofty way of putting it, 
and rather a mean way, too, of getting out 
of a difficulty ; and, of course, Mrs. Kennedy 
could not ask a second time for an intro- 
duction. She could fnid out his name, 
however, through the passenger list, and she 



168 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

did. It was Mr. Julius Clifford. So here we 
have them in company on board the Circassia, 
Mr. Julius Clifford and Miss Adeline Ducroz. 

" They were very much together during 
that voyage. Mrs. Kennedy, being a bad 
sailor, could not keep a watchful eye on 
them, but she heard it from the other 
passengers, and Adeline's blithe spirits 
showed that she was happy, and again 
under his influence. The debatable question 
now with Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy was whether 
Adeline would "o with them to the West. 
The)^ asked her, and she said, without hesita- 
tion, ' Where else should I go ? ' Where 
else, indeed ! ' And your friend, Mr. 
Clifford ? ' asked Mrs. Kennedy. ' He has 
some business in l^ew York,' answered 
Adeline, ' which will detain him a week or 
two, and then he is coming on to us.' All 
false, as was proved ; he had anticipated 
the questions, and had directed her how to 
answer them. Believing she spoke the 
truth the Kennedys were put off their 
guard, which was just what Mr. Clifford 



AN OLD STORY, 1G9 

wanted, and when they arrived in New York 
neither he nor Adeline was to be found. The 
Kennedys were deeply grieved, but they 
were powerless ; Adeline was not their 
daughter, she was over age, and her own 
mistress ; they had not the slightest authority 
over her. It had been their intention to 
remain in New York only one night, and to 
start the following day for the West ; but 
they remained a week, hunting for the 
misguided girl. I don't know what good 
they expected to do when they found her, 
but they had a duty to perform, and they 
performed it. They had almost given her up 
in despair when they met her and Mr. 
Clifford in Central Park. Mr. CUfford would 
have hurried Adeline away, but Mrs. 
Kennedy stood in their path. ' What is 
your pleasure ? ' asked Mr. Clifford. ' Let 
me speak to you, Adeline,' said Mrs. Kennedy. 
' Speak then,' said Mr. CHfford. ' Adehne 
and I have no secrets from each other.' 
Mrs. Kennedy wished to ask Adeline if she 
was married, but she did not dare to put the 



170 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

question in tlie presence of Mr. Clifford ; it 
would have been an open insult. She asked, 
therefore, instead, ' Are you happy, Adeline ? ' 
' Are you happy, Adeline ? ' repeated Mr, 
Clifford. ' Quite happy,' replied Adeline, and 
indeed she looked as if she was. ' Quite 
happy,' repeated Mr. Clifford. ' I hope 3'ou 
are satisfied. Come, Adeline.' ' One moment,' 
said poor Mrs. Kennedy. ' Are you going to 
live in America ? ' ' Our movements,' said 
Clifford, with his eyes on Adeline's face, ' are 
uncertain.' And such was his power over 
her that she repeated his words as he had 
repeated Mrs. Kennedy's. ' Our movements,' 
she said, ' are uncertain.' Though I have 
little doubt that a moment before she did not 
know whether thev were so or not. ' You 
have our address,' said Mrs. Kennedy. ' We 
shall be glad to see you at any time.' ' Much 
obliged,' drawled Mr. Clifford. ' And if ever 
you want a friend,' said Mrs. Kennedy, ' you 
will always find one in us.' ' She will never 
want one,' said Mr. Clifford, ' not in the way 
you mean.' ' I trust not, I trust not,' 



AN OLD STORY. 171 

murmured Mrs. Kennedy. Then she held 
out her hand, and Adeline took it and pressed 
it warmly. Perhaps at that moment the 
recollection of all that Mrs. Kennedy had 
done for her came to her mind. She offered 
her hand also to Mr. Clifford, and he, after a 
little hesitation, accepted it ; and so they 
would have parted, but when Mrs. Kennedy 
turned and walked away a few steps, Adeline 
ran after her and kissed her, with tears 
running down her face and then ran back 
to Mr. Clifford. Bitterly did Mrs. Kennedy 
reproach herself afterwards that she did not 
ask Adeline if she was married ; had the 
answer been what it should have been she 
would have left Adeline with a liijhter heart. 
I think I see in your face, Millington, that 
you want to sa}' something." 

" I do," I said. " When Mr. Haldane 
told me that Mr. Clifford and Miss Ducroz 
lived together in New York, she bearing 
his name with his cognizance and consent, 
and making purchases in his name for 
which he paid, I told him it was as good 



172 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

as a marriage, though no ceremony was 
performed." 

" Is that the law ? " 

" It is the law in the State of New York," I 
replied. 

" Ah ; and what did Mr. Haldane reply ? " 

"That Mr. Clifford had already heard 
some nonsense to that effect." 

" Some nonsense to that effect," repeated 
Mr. Barlow. "Denoting that he did not 
believe anything of the kind." 

" That was what he intended to convey." 

" And didn't want to believe it. MiUing- 
ton, I take it that you are satisfied that 
the account Mr. Haldane gave you of the 
first meeting between Mr. Clifford and Miss 
Ducroz on board the Circassia is false." 

"Most certainly." 

" It follows, then, that some other things he 
related to you are false." 

" Yes, I should say so." 

" He is a fool," said Mr. Barlow, " and 
something worse than a fool. You asked me, 
when I commenced my story, whether I had 



AN OLD STORY. 173 

succeeded in discovering Mr. Clifford. I 
answered that up to the hour of closing my 
office to-day I had not discovered him. I 
should give you a different answer now." 

" Should you ? " 

'• Yes. It is my deliberate opinion that 
Mr. Julius CUfford is no other than Mr. 
Haldane himself." 



CHAPTER XIV. 

BETRAYED. 

Mr. Barlow had put in plain words a 
suspicion which had crossed my mind. He 
was not a man who was wise after the event, 
and I did not question the conclusion at 
which he had so promptly arrived. 

"We have to consider," he continued, 
" what induces a chent to so stupidly deceive 
the agent he employs. The kind of a man 
who acts in this way is either a man of weak 
character or a man so eaten up with pride 
and conceit that he cannot admit that he has 
done anything of which he ought to feel 
ashamed. The story Mr. Haldane related to 
you paints Adeline Ducroz black, and himself 
white ; proclaims her an adventuress, and 
himself an honourable man. My behef 
is that he and his friend Mr. Redwood are 
both black sheep, with this difference — that 



BETRAYED. 176 

Mr. Haldane has sown his wild oats, and Mr. 
Redwood is still sowing. It is reaping time 
with Mr. Haldane. Somebody has threatened 
him ; he is frightened of the past ; there are 
skeletons, not in his cupboards, but standing 
at his door. So he calls you in, and while he 
is explaining what he wants done, lies to you, 
to prove, in case you suspect him, that he is 
a saint, and the woman he has wronged 
is a sinner. We will put him aside awhile, 
and go on with my version of the story. 
After this last meeting with Miss Ducroz in 
New York, Mrs. Kennedy went to her home 
in the West, where she remained for several 
years. And now there is introduced into the 
case evidence of a very peculiar kind, the 
first portion of which is in the form of letters 
written by Miss Ducroz to Mrs. Kennedy. 
These letters, with others not so clear, were 
preserved by Mrs. Kennedy, and are in my 
possession. As it happens I have them in my 
pocket, and can read them to you. They 
bear neither date nor address, but the stamps 
and postmarks on the envelopes indicate the 



176 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

cities in which they were written. Here is 
the first : 



" ' My Dear Mother, — 

" ' I am writing to you without my 
husband's knowledge ' 

" You will understand before I have 
finished," said Mr. Barlow, breaking off and 
looking up from the faded letter he was 
reading, "why, although she speaks here of 
Mr. Clifford as her husband, I have spoken of 
her all through as Miss Ducroz." He then 
resumed : 

" ' Without my husband's knowledge, and 
when we meet, which I hope we shall soon, 
please do not tell him that I ever wrote to 
you. Mr. Clifford is very kind to me, and 
very affectionate, but he is also very particu- 
lar, and he would be angry with me if he 
found out that I did anything in opposition 
to his wishes. On the day we met in Central 
Park he said, after you were gone, " There is 



BETRAYED. 177 

no occasion, my dear Adeline, for you to keep 
up a correspondence with Mrs. Kennedy. By 
and by, when we visit them, she will get to 
know rae better, and will do me justice." I 
did not promise not to write to you, so I am 
not exactly disobeying him, and I do not 
want you to reply to my letters, for I shall 
write to you again if I have time. My 
husband need not know about it. It has 
weighed on my mind that I have been un- 
grateful for all you have done for me, and I 
ask you now to forgive me. I cannot say 
anything more than that I am very, very 
sorry. If the past were to come over again 
I might act differently, but this confession 
does not make me any better. My reliance is 
upon your good heart and your feelings for 
me. It is a relief for me to write to you, and 
I feel happier already. My husband and I 
go out nearly every evening to theatres and 
other places of amusement, but during the 
day he leaves me alone sometimes to attend 
to his business affairs, and it is at these times, 
having nothing to do, that I feel lonely, and 
VOL. I. 12 



ITS THE MARCH OF FATiH. 

long for someone to .speak to. How I wish 
you were living near us ! I hope you are 
happy and comfortable in your new home. 
With love to you and dear father, 

" ' I am, ever your affectionate daughter, 

" ' x\deline.' 

" There is not much in this letter," said 
Mr. Barlow, " except that it shows a craving 
for sympathy, and a fear of Mr. Clifford. In 
one sense it was a OTeat satisfaction to Mrs. 
Kennedy ; the writer spoke of Mr. Clifford as 
her husband. The second letter, which I 
shall now read, was written some weeks after 
the first, judging from the postmark on the 
envelope : 

" ' My Dear Mother, — 

" ' I have news for you which you 
will be sorry to hear. We are going to 
Europe. It is quite sudden, and I only knew 
it yesterday. I have been looking forward 
so to coming and staying with 3'ou a little 
while, and now, at the last moment, 1 am 



BETRAYED. 179 

disappointed. I told my husband liow much 
I felt in leaving America without seeing' you, 
and he says it cannot be helped. Our vessel 
starts to-morrow morning, and I have all my 
packing to do, so there is very little time for 
writing ; but I could not go without sending 
you a line. It is a good thing I have not 
to run about, saying good-bye to people ; we 
have made no friends since we have been 
here, and the only people I know are trades- 
men, I shall write to you soon ag-ain — 
perhaps from the ship, perhaps from London. 
I think we are going there, but Mr. Clifford 
does not seem to have made up his mind 
where we shall live ; he talks of travelling ; I 
should like to be settled first and to travel 
afterwards. Good - bye. God bless you 
both. 

" ' Your affectionate daughter, 

" ' Adeline.* 

"There is not much in this letter, either," 
observed Mr. Barlow, " unless you read 
between the lines. It proves the complete 

12* 



180 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

ascendancy Mr. Clifford lias over her. His 
will is law. To a mild remonstrance against 
the sudden departure, of which she is 
informed only at the last moment, and which 
is to tear her from the only true friends she 
has in the world, he simply replies that it 
cannot be helped. No other explanation, 
although his preparations for leaving the 
country must have taken him some time to 
make. He does not confide in her : he keeps 
her in comparative seclusion ; he issues com- 
mands which she has to obey. The romance 
is fading, and she is being brought face to 
face with reality. Her next letter bears the 
London postmark : 

*' ' My Dear Mother, — 

" ' We have been in London three 
weeks, and I would have written to you 
before if I had not been ill. We had a 
dreadful passage, and I was not able to go on 
deck for a single hour. I was in bed from 
the first day to the last, and I feared I should 
never rise from it. I sometimes think it 



BETRAYED. 181 

would have been better for me if I had died 
at sea ; all my trouble would have been over. 
It is wicked to have such thoughts, I know, 
but I cannot help it. I have nothing in the 
way of news that I dare tell you ; it is only 
that I feel I must write to you. Mr. Clifford's 
plans are not settled yet, and I believe we are 
to start for Paris to-morrow. I do hope you 
are happy and prosperous. I will write 
again if I live. 

" ' Your loving daughter, 

" ' Adeline.' 

" The letter speaks for itself," said Mr. 
Barlow. "It is a confession of misery, and 
there seems to be no prospect of brighter 
days to come. She says she has no news that 
she dare tell — there is somethino' sicrnificant 
in that. She does not speak of her ' husband ' 
now, but calls him Mr. Clifford. The last 
intelligible letter is written in Paris : 

" ' How shall I write to you — what shall I 
say ? We are here in Paris. They call it 



182 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

'• the gay city " ; to me it is a city of dark- 
ness. Bitterly am I punished for not listening 
to your advice. I am cut off from all the 
world, and the only beins^ at whose feet I 
would kneel for pardon, if I had the courage, 
is far away. Were I able to come to you, I 
should not dare ; I should fly from you in 
terror and shame, and you would repulse me, 
as every good Vv'oman would if she knew the 
truth about me. Can you guess — can you 
guess ? You are not bad, like me ; your 
heart is ])ure ; you have not sinned. But is 
the sin all mine ? Am I alone responsible ? 
I wander in darkness ; I cannot pray. The 
present terrifies me, and I shudder at the 
future. And yet there are women who in my 
condition, would look forward with joy to the 
day when — - — But those women are not 
ashamed to look their sisters in the face ; they 
have the right to hold up their heads ; they are 
not disgraced as I am. Can you guess now ? 
I would seek death if I dared, but I am too 
great a coward. My only solace is forgetful- 
ness, oblivion, and I seek it shamefully. 



BETRAYED. 183 

Disgrace upon disgrace. I am glad you 
cannot write to me, that you do not know 
where to fuid me. But do not quite forget 
me. Think of me, not as I am, but as I 
might have been if I had been grateful for 
all your goodness to me, if I had shown you 
obedience. 

" ' Your unhappy 

" ' Adeline.' 

" So far," said Mr. Barlow, " these four 
letters tell a plain story, and upon the receipt 
of the last, Mrs Kennedy, stirred by indigna- 
tion and compassion, came to Europe in 
search of Adeline. She had very little 
money t(^ prosecute her inquiries, and as 
might have been expected in consequence of 
that, and with clues so slight to cuide her, 
she was quite unsuccessful. JSTot the slightest 
trace of Adeline could she find, and she was 
compelled to return to America no wiser than 
when she came. Meanwhile " — Mr. Barlow 
paused as we heard the street door open and 
shut — " Meanwliile," he continued, " here is 



184 THE MARCH OF FATE, 

George come home, hungry for supper, and I 
feel peckish myself. Pop in at the office 
to-morrow afternoon at four o'clock, and you 
will hear some still more startling develop- 
ments. Well, George " — as my lad entered 
the room — " what sort of a night is it ? " 

George answered that it was a fine night, 
and then our little maid appeared and set 
supper for us, which we enjoyed thoroughly, 
not a word being spoken about the business 
which had brought us together. But as I 
walked with Mr. Barlow down the street to 
catch a 'bus, he said : 

" You have spoken of a daughter of Mr. 
Haldane's as if you liked her ? " 

" 'No one could help liking her," I said. 
" She is a lump of sweetness and goodness." 

" That sounds well. Young ? " 

" About eighteen, I should say." 

"About eighteen," said Mr. Barlow, and 
appeared to be reckoning up something in 
his mind. " By the way, are there any more 
children ? " 

" Not that I am aware of. I should say 



BETRAYED. 185 

decidedly not, or we should Lave heard of 
them through George's sweetheart." 

" Only one child, then, a young lady about 
eighteen years of age. That opens up a new 
road." 

" What is in your mind, Barlow ? " 

" Something that may be in yours when 
you hear the whole of the story. Mr. Hal- 
dane a widower ? " 

" I never inquired." 

" No sign of a wife at the Hall ? " 

" None." 

" Nor talk of the young lady's mother ? " 

" None." 

" Here's my 'bus. Good-night. Don't be 
late to-morrow, Millington. Four o'clock — a 
little earlier if you like." 



CHAPTER XV. 

MR. BARLOW AT WORK. 

So keen was my interest in the unfinished 
story he had related, and so eager was I to 
hear the condusion, that I presented myself 
at the old office in Surrey Street at half-past 
three. 

" I fancied you would be early," said Mr. 
Barlow. " Looks Uke old times having you 
here again. Before I go on with my story I 
have to give you a piece of information and 
to make a confession. I have thrown up the 
commission, so far as Mr. Louis Redwood is 
concerned. 1 wrote a letter to him this 
morning, enclosing the twenty pounds he left 
with me, and saying that I could not attend 
to his business. He will be wild at my 
refusal, and, as a gentleman who thinks no 
small beer of himself, wnll send me an im- 



MR. BARLOW AT WORK. 187 

pudent letter in reply. I'll put up with 
that." 

" I'm glad you've thrown him over," I said. 
" He is an infernal scoundrel, and I'd rather 
hinder than help him in any of his schemes." 

" He'll have no difficult}'- in getting some- 
body else to take up the affair," said Mr. 
Barlow, " but we hold what threads there are, 
and it will be a hard job to w^ork without 
them. My confession is soon made. I have 
spoken of client number one, for whom I am 
really working as a gentleman. I oughtn't 
to have misled vou ; client number one is a 
lady." 

I nodded. It did not seem to me to be 
important, and it w^as a mistake in a personal 
pronoun any one might have made. During 
a short silence that ensued Mr. Barlow occu- 
pied himself in arranging a number of 
papers which he intended to read or refer to, 
odd pieces picked up apparently at hap- 
hazard, and pen and pencil appeared to have 
been indiscriminately used. Among them 
were several sheets of letter and note paper, 



188 TilE MARCH OF FATE. 

soiled and creased ; part of the writing was 
large, part ver}^ small and fnie ; and the 
whole collection was evidently the work of 
a person or persons who did not have proper 
writing material always at command. The 
manuscripts were numbered in red ink, and 
this sign of order, I judged, was the work of 
Mr. Barlow. 

" I saw client number one this morning," he 
said, " and told her that I was disclosing the 
particulars of the story to a friend who might 
be useful to me in the inquiry. Her answer 
was that I could manage the affair in any way 
that susfgested itself to me. All that she asks 

CO 

at present is that I shall track Mr. Chfford, 
if he is alive, and let her know where he is 
to be found. Now, MilUngton, I put it to 
you straight. Shall we continue to act as 
partners in this job, or shall we work in- 
dependently of each other ? " 

" Continue to act together," I replied. 

" I can't see anything wrong in the partner- 
ship," said Mr. Barlow, thoughtfully. " You 
have already learned something from me that 



MR. BARLOW AT AVORK. 189 

may assist you, and 3'ou will presently learn 
a ijreat deal more ; and I have already learned 
something from you that may assist me. The 
difference is that my version of the story is 
the true one, yours the false. You will be 
able to go to Mr. Haldane and say, ' I can 
now tell you something of the history of 
Adeline Ducroz after the separation in Paris 
between her and Mr. Julius Clifford.' I may 
be able to go to my client and inform her 
where Mr. Clifford is to be found. Each of 
us, then, will have executed his commission, 
and what consequences may follow, and what 
further commissions may be offered to us, are 
not, at present, matters for our consideration. 
This beimj understood, I will go on from 
where I left off last night. 

" After her unsuccessful search for Adeline 
in London and Paris Mrs. Kennedy returned 
to America. During her absence some com- 
munications from the unfortunate young 
woman had been received by Mr. Kennedy, 
and in America other communications reached 
them from time to time. These communi- 



190 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

cations cannot be described as letters, for, 
except upon the envelopes, they are not 
addressed by name, nor do they bear any 
signature ; but they are indubitably in 
Adeline's handwritiniy, although the character 
of that writing is strangely altered. It is a 
wonder how some of these communications 
reached their destination, so imperfectly were 
thev addressed, and there is more than a 
reasonable likelihood that a number must 
have miscarried. The papers you see on the 
table are the communications of which I am 
speaking ; they were handed to me by my 
client, and it has taken a great deal of 
labour to arrange and decipher them. In 
places they were almost illegible, and, where 
I could, I have written in the words which 
were most likely used, or intended to be 
used. The chronological arrangement was 
difficult, but I think I have managed it fairl}'- 
well. With this explanation I will make a 
start. 



CHAPTER XYI. 

ADELINE DUCROZ'S DIARY. 

The doctor has been here. He tells me I 
have been very ill, and that I must take care 
of myself. I know I have been ill, but what 
is the use of taking care of myself? I ask 
this question of the doctor. He says it is a 
duty. 

" Duty ! " I cry. " To whom ? " 
" To yourself," he answers. " To others." 
I keep on repeating these words in my 
mind, over and over again. '• It is a duty," 
I say, " to myself, to others." The doctor, 
all the time, standing and looking down upon 
me. 

" But I do not care for myself," I say 
presently. 

" Then do not consider yourself," he 
answers ; " consider others." 



192 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

I repeat the last two words over and over 
again in my mind. " Consider others — con- 
sider others — consider others." 

" Who are the others, doctor ? " I ask. 

" First, the living," he answers, very slowly. 
lie speaks so in compliance with my request ; 
when people speak quickly to me now I can- 
not understand them, I get confused. Even 
as it is, I often have to repeat what they say, 
to make sure. 

" First, the living," I say. " Give the 
living a name." 

"He has one," says the doctor. "Your 
friend." 

" Have I a friend," I ask, " here in this 
black land ? " 

" You have," he answers. " Clear your 
mind of disordered fancies. The land is not 
black ; it is the brightest in the world. You 
are a lady of good education and natural 
intelligence. Give your abilities fair play." 

" Never mind the land," I say, " never mind 
my education and intelligence. Name my 
living friend." 



ADELINE DUCROZ S DIARY. 193 

" Mr. Cliirord," he says. " Surely you do 
not forget ! " 

" 0, Mr. Clifford," I say. " No, I do not 
forget. How can I forget doctor, with such 
abilities and intelligence as mine ? " 

" That is much better," says the doctor. 
" Keep it always before you that you have 
intelligence and abilities, and that you mean 
to exercise them — they are the gifts of God, 
remember — and then you will not forget." 

" I will try as hard as I can," I say, " not 
to forget." 

" Now I have hopes of you," he says, " and 
shall leave you till the evening." 

But I call to him not to go yet ; that there is 
something forgotten. He puts down his hat 
and stick, and inquires what it is. 

" You spoke of a duty to others," I say. 

" Yes," he answers. 

" And then you said, ' First the living,' and 
you gave him a name." 

" Perfectly correct," he says. " Your mind 
is getting clearer." 

" That is not all," I say, " Mr. Clifford is 
VOL. I. 13 



194 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

only one, and you spoke of others. Who 
follows the living Clifford ? " 

He hesitates a moment before he speaks. 

" You will soon hold to your breast a gift 
from God." 

I control the anguish that is about to 
overpower me ; I can be strong even now 
sometimes with a strength born of black 
bitterness. 

" Another of God's gifts ! " I cry. " I am 
truly blest. How grateful I ought to be ! " 

" You are truly blessed," he says, with 
gentle voice and mocking eyes ; I can fathom 
hidden meanings. 

I turn from him ; I cannot bear to look at 
his face, seemingly so kind. He is at the 
door. 

" Come back ! " I cry. 

He comes at once, and says, " Well ? " 

" You said just now I was a lady. Why do 
you mock me ? " 

" I do not mock you," he says. " Heaven 
forbid I should mock j^ou ! " 

" Do not speak so much of heaven and 



ADELINE DUCROZ'S DIAEY. 195 

gifts of God," I say. " You know I am not a 
lady. You know I am a shameless woman." 

He sits b}^ my side ; lie takes my hand ; he 
preaches a sermon upon the ways of life ; he 
makes light of sin ; he says these things are 
common, and that I must not take it so much 
to heart. I tear my hand from him. 

" Go," I cry. " Leave me before I do you 
a mischief ! " 

He is gone and I am alone. I will not 

think of what he says — I will not, I will not, 

I will not ! All that I will endeavour to do is 

to forget. I know what will deaden my 

senses, what will help me to forget. 

***** 

There was a conversation in my room ; 
they thought I was asleep. I lay still, 
deceiving them ; they spoke in low tones, but 
I heard every word. 

" Is she any better P " It was Clifford who 
spoke. 

" She is no better, and no worse." The 
doctor was speaking. " She loses control of 
herself." 

13* 



196 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" Will she die ? " 

" It is impossible to say. Life and death 
are more in her hands than mine." 

" The usual cant is that life and death are 
in God's hands." 

" I do not employ the usual cant, I am 
guided by material facts, by common sense." 

They spoke in French ; thanks to my 
education I understand the language, and 
German as well. Would it have been better 
for me if I had been a gutter child ? I am a 
gutter woman ; I have made myself one. Who 
can say mine has been an idle life ? 

" If she dies there will be an inquest ? " 
Clifford again. 

" It cannot be avoided." 
' " And I shall have to give evidence ? " 

" You will be questioned." 

" My name will be dragged in ? " 

The doctor does not answer. My eyes are 
closed, but I can see him shrug his shoulders. 
Clifford's name will be dragged in — his name, 
that he is always prating about ! His name — 
his honour ! " I will not be disgraced ! You 



ADELINE DUCROZ'S DIARY. 197 

shall not disgrace me ! " How many times 
has he said that to me ? I shall not disgrace 
him ! Has he not disgraced me ? But what 
does that matter ? I am only a woman. He 
is a gentleman. He has said it to me a 
hundred times. " I am a gentleman ; re- 
member that ! " Yes, he is a gentleman. He 
has behaved to me like one. And if I die, 
and he is questioned, as the doctor warns him 
he will be, some doubt may be thrown upon 
the title he claims. That is his fear. He 
thinks ever of himself, never of me. How 
long ago is it, when I was living in the happy 
home with which I was not contented, that a 
young girl in our neighbourhood was as I am 
now ? She came back with her load of 
shame. She was spurned — flouted at ; in the 
end she disappeared, no one knew where. 
And the gentleman who had dragged her 
down walked about with a smiling face. No 
one reproached him, no one. He was received 
in society ; mothers allowed him to associate 
with their daughters ; he spoke at public 
meetings ; he was honoured, respected. And 



198 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

she! poor Mary Sternliokl — where was that 
lost sph'it wandering ? What w^as her end ? 
What will be mine ? 

The conversation between CUfford and the 
doctor went on. 

Said the doctor, " You wish her to live ? " 

" Of course I wish her to live," said Clifford. 
" Do you think I have no heart ? " 

That was a plain question. The doctor 
did not answer it. Why did not Clifford 
ask me 1 I could have answered him. 

" Do everything in your power," said 
Clifford. " She takes too gloomy a view of 
her situation. I will see that she is comfort- 
ably provided for. She would be happy if it 
was not for her vile temper." 

" She is young enough for happiness," said 
the doctor. 

" If all girls were like her," said Clifford, 
" it would be unbearable. You know what 
life is." 

" Yes," said the doctor, " I know." 

His voice was quite callous, and yet his 
nature is not unkind. It was man of the 



ADELINE DUCROZ'S DIARY. 199 

world speaking to man of the world. Could 
they have put their experiences side by side, 
and compared them agreeably ? I dare say. 
Since I left m}^ home I have learned much. 
Bitter knowledge — bitter experience ! My 
punishment is just ; but should not the man 
be punished as well as the woman ? 

" You can do something," said the doctor, 
" towards helping her to a healthier frame of 
mind. Treat her with great gentleness ; 
humour her ; sympathize with her ; win her 
back to cheerfulness. Are her parents 
living ? " 

" She is an orphan." 

True. The sfood souls who call me their 
daughter are not my parents. They adopted 
me as their child, and reared and educated 
me, not out of charity, but out of pure good- 
ness of heart. How have I repaid them ? 

" Has she only you to depend upon ? " 
asked the doctor. 

" I suppose so," replied Clifford, fretfully. 

It hurt him to acknowledge it. 

" Follow my advice," said the doctor, " and 



200 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

all will be well. They suffer more or less 
when the parting comes, if the separation is 
not of their own seeking. Which sometimes 
happens." 

" I wish it would happen with her," said 
Clifford ; " but she has no independence of 
spirit. If I were a woman I would not be 
tied to a man who wanted to get rid of me ! " 

There he spoke his mind, thinking I did 
not hear. He had not said it so plainly to 
my face, but I knew it all the time. 

" As she does not choose to leave you of 
her own accord," said the doctor, " you have 
a certain responsibility." 

" I cannot do more than offer to provide 
for her," said Clifford, in a savage voice. " If 
she knows what's good for her she will 
consent to what I propose. What more can 
a woman want ? " 

What more ? Love, faithfulness, truth, 
honour. Chfford looks upon woman as a 
piece of merchandise, to be bought and sold. 
I know now sufficient of the world to know 
that this traffic is pursued in the open market. 



ADELI^SE DUCROZ'S DIARY. 201 

but then both buyer and seller barc^ain with 
their eyes open. Does ClifTord dare to think 
that I belong to the shameless crowd ? If he 
does, why did he swear to me that I should 
be his wife ; why did he make me believe that 
I was his wife ? And now, now, he tells me 
that he lied to me, that he deliberately 
deceived me ! What does such a man 
deserve ? 

The doctor went away ; Clifford and I were 
left alone. He came to my bedside ; I did 
not open my eyes but I saw him gazing 
at me. The silence was terrible ; I could not 
bear it. 

" Who is there ? " I murmured, pretending 
that I had just awoke. 

" It is T, Clifford," he answered. 

" Have you been here long ? " I asked. 

" I have this moment come in," he said. 

Even in such a simple matter as this he 
could not speak the truth. He inquired if I 
was any better, and I said yes, Ijdng to him 
as he lied to me. 

" Shall we talk sensibly together ? " 



202 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

" Say what you please," I answered. 

" I must leave Paris," he said. " Im- 
portant business calls me away." 

" Very well, Clifford. I will go with you." 

" You are not strong enough." 

" I am quite strong enough. Do we leave 
to-morrow ? " 

" You cannot accompany me. I will 
arrange so that you shall be comfortable. 
There, there ! Don't make things worse than 
they are." 

" Do you think they can be worse ? " 

" Are you going to be unreasonable 



again 



" I have never been unreasonable. I am a 
human being like yourself. You vowed and 
swore to me " 

He interrupted me with, " No more of 
your whining ! I'm sick of it. You will 
drive me away in anger. What will you do 
then ? " 

" What will I do then ? " I cried. " Pub- 
lish your treachery to the world ! Make 
your name, that you're so proud of, a bye- 



ADELINE DUCEOZ'S DIARY. 203 

word ! Drag you down to the level to which 
you have dragged me ! " 

" You will ? " he exclaimed, with white 
face and set teeth. 

" I will ! " 

He dashed out of the room, leaving me 
alone with my despair. Tt is at these times 
that I seek oblivion. Solitude is awful to 
me, and he knows it. I crept out of bed, and 
sought my solace. I drank glass after glass. 
I laughed, I sang, I tried to dance, and 
then I fell to the ground and forgot every- 
thing. 

***** 

If ever you receive this, you whom I called 
mother once, but dare not call so now, pity 
and forgive me ! You will shudder at my 
words, but I have imposed it on myself as a 
penance to write what comes to me to write, 
though it shows the blackness of my soul. 
And I shall find a way to send it to you, 
however strict is the watch they set upon me. 
I shall disguise nothing that I can remember ; 
I shall write nothing that I believe is false ; I 



201 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

shall not seek to excuse myself, nor to make 
the degradation into which I have fallen less 
than it is. This is the punishment I shall 
inflict upon myself. 

I think I should have been a better woman 
if I had not been so deceived, but it is only a 
thought, and perhaps I am deluding myself. 
I could never have been as you are ; your 
soul is white ; but I should never have 
been what I am now, what I have been 
driven to by Clifford. I have seen good 
women with children about them, women 
who have never been led into sin with 
honeyed words by smiling men, and I might 
have been worthy to walk by their side had I 
not met with Clifford. 

I have not told you before ; I will tell 
you now. 

Long before we started for America he 
wanted me to leave you, but I refused, 
though I loved him with all my soul. " Why 
do you refuse," he asked, " if you love me as 
you say you do ? " " It is right," I replied, 
" that I should be married from my mother's 



ADELINE UUCEOZ'S DIARY. 205 

house." " I do not like your people," lie 
said, " and they do not like me. What can 
it matter where we are married ? " I gave in 
so far, and asked when we should be married. 
" Bye and bye," he answered. " But when ? " 
I urged. " Bye and bye," he answered again. 
*' Leave all to me. Make your prepara- 
tions, and we will go away and be happy 
to-morrow night. Say nothing at home." I 
did not yield, though he pressed me hard, 
and swore he would deal honourably by me. 
The influence of your good teaching was 
upon me then, and guided me aright. The 
strength of that influence was proved by my 
love for Chfford and by what I suffered in 
refusing him. Then he came to London, and 
sought and found me there. And still he 
pressed me to fly with him, and still I re- 
fused. When you told me that we were to go 
to America I was overwhelmed with despair 
at the thought of losing^ him, and I said I 
would not go with you. On that night I met 
him by appointment and informed him of 
your plans. He commended me for my 



206 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

spirit, and proposed that I should go with 
him at once, and not return home ; but when 
I spoke again of marriage, his only reply was 
that I must trust him entirely, and that he 
would be true and faithful to me. " I will 
wait for you in London, and when you are 
ready to marry me I will be yours." He 
protested that I had no confidence in him, 
and that he would be satisfied with nothing 
less than my immediate consent to his pro- 
posal. " You must choose," he said, " be- 
tween me and your people. If you go from 
me to-night I will never see you again." I 
did choose, though my heart was almost 
broken, lovins; him as I did. I returned 
home, and told you I would come with you 
to America. You will remember all this. 

I am interrupted, and must wait till I am 
alone to continue ; Imt I will manage to put 
what I have written into the post, so that you 
may know, if you never hear from me again, 
that I did not fall without a struggle. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE DIARY CONTINUED. 

I KNOW where I left ofT. There are times 
when my memory is quite gone, when reason 
deserts me, when I hve only in a world of 
phantoms. The images that haunt me are 
not always horrible ; God is merciful, and 
sends me dreams which banish the horrors of 
the living day. I am grateful for them, 
though the awakening is terrible. It is when 
I am sensible and thinking of you that my 
memory returns. So now I know, being 
alone, with no one watching me, that I left 
off where I made my choice between Clifford 
and you. 

I never expected to see him again, and I 
thought that no hope of happiness remained 
to me. When I saw him on the steamer, on 
the day we left England for America, I was 



208 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

dizzy with wonder and joy, and when I heard 
from his own hps that he felt it would be 
worse than death to part with me, and that 
that was the reason of his joining the ship, 
the world was a brighter, happier world than 
it had been since the night I tore m3^self 
away from him in London. 

" Do you need further proof of my devo- 
tion ? " he asked ; and I answered, " No." 

From that moment I was his slave. Every- 
thing I told you about him and m3^self was 
spoken at his dictation. lie had no business 
to transact in America ; he was going because 
I was going, and we were to get married 
there. So I lied to you, at his bidding, he 
promising that when he had conquered the 
resentment he felt against you, we should all 
be friends once more. I looked forward to 
that time. The deceit I was practising did 
not shock me then as it shocks me now ; it 
seemed a small price to pay for the proof of 
love he had given me. I believed in him as 
you believe in God, and thought he could do 
no wrong. So we landed in New York, and 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 209 

I lefi you without saying good-bye. We 
did not meet again till we saw you in Central 
Park. 

On the day after our arrival Clifford took 
me to a private office, and there some words 
were spoken by a man I never saw again, 
and Clifford and I signed a paper which he 
put in his pocket. Before that he had placed 
a ring on my finger, and when we were in the 
street, he told me we were married by civil 
process, and that there was no country in the 
world in which these things were so easily 
and quickly done as in America. He spoke 
to me then about his private position in 
England ; it was the first time he had done 
so, and I believed every word he said, though 
I did not rightly understand what it was all 
about. Our marriage must be kept secret for 
a time, he said, or his prospects would be 
ruined. He was dependent upon a relative, 
an old lady over eighty years of age, who 
could not possibly live more than a year or 
two, and who had made him promise that he 
would not marry during her lifetime. When 
VOL. I. 14 



21 U THE MAKCH OF FATE, 

she (lied he would be her heir, and there 
would be no longer any occasion to keep the 
secret of our marriage. I was very happy at 
that time ; Clifford was behaving most kindly 
to me, and as I went by his name I did not 
dream that he was deceiving me. He warned 
me to say nothing whatever of our marriage 
to you in case we met. " I will tell her 
when we are friends," he said, " but she must 
promise me lirst to keep our secret faithfully 
till my good old aunt is gone." That is why 
I said nothing to you in Central Park, and 
why, if you had asked me direct questions, 
I could not have answered them, for Clifford 
claimed obedience from me, and it was my 
duty to obey. 

When was it that I seemed to see clouds 
gathering around me ? Before we left New 
York for England, certainly — yes, certainly 
before that time. Tlie lirst two or three 
weeks he was constantly with me ; he never 
went out without me, and he was always 
studying how we should pass the days agree- 
ably. " Do you like this — would you like 



THE DIAKY C02STINUED. 211 

that ? Shall we go here to-night, or is there 
any other place you would like me to take 
you ? " Then came a gradual change ; he 
left me in my room in the hotel for hours 
together of a night, and when I ventured to 
complain a little he told me not to be too 
exacting. My temper is not a patient one ; 
you know that, and perhaps I was unwise in 
showing him this too soon ; but I could not 
control myself. ChfTord only laughed at me. 

" We are none of us perfect," he said. " I 
am beginning to find you out, Adeline ; pre- 
sently you will begin to find me out." 

It was not till some time afterwards that, 
in thinking of these words, I knew they must 
have been spoken with meaning, and that 
Clifford was not sorry to discover that I was 
not an angel, because it furnished him with 
an excuse for his own wickedness. When he 
ordered me to pack my trunks suddenly for 
England we had a scene ; I was hot, he 
was cool. 

" If you don't care to come," he said, " I 
will go alone." 

14* 



212 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

A chill struck mv heart as he said this ; 
and on that evening I began to think of the 
future with fear. 

" Will you come, or stay ? " he asked. 

" You insult me by asking such a question," 
I answered. " My place is by your side." 

He looked at me quietly for a moment or 

two, but said nothing more, nor did I. On 

the following day we started for England. I 

was very ill during the voyage, but he paid 

me little attention. He seemed to take no 

pleasure in my society, and his manner 

towards me was entirely changed. It was 

the same in London, and I was frightened to 

complain for fear of angering him. I had no 

one but him, not a friend to whom I could 

speak, whose advice I could ask. Sometimes, 

when I forced myself to be bright, and took 

pains with my dress and appearance to please 

him, he behaved better to me ; but I could 

not always play the hypocrite. Besides, I 

was weak and ill, and utterly, utterly 

wretched. . . . 

« «  « « 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 213 

It was liere, in Paris, that I heard of my 
disgrace ; it was here, in this hateful city, 
reekinji with vice and shame, that I learned 
what I had become. I will hide nothing 
from you ; I stab myself by showing you how 
vile and abandoned I am. Before the blow 
fell I began to drink, and I do not seek to 
excuse myself by saying it was Clifford who 
led me on. But it was he who placed 
temptation in my way, who drank with me, 
who first said : 

"Drink, and forget." 

It does not affect him, but it drags me 
down, down ! I loathe it and love it. *' Here 
am I, at your hand," it whispers, for it is 
always there ; he does not seek to deprive 
me of my solace, I will say that of him ; 
" here I am, at your hand. Drink, and 
be happy." Be happy ! What a mockery ! 
But I cannot resist it. Even now my 
eyes are wandering towards it ; even now 
my trembling hands are stretched towards 
it ; but I resist, because I am writing to 
you, because, before I am utterly lost, 



214 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

you shall know the full extent of my 
degradation. 

We had a quarrel. Whose fault it was I 
cannot say — his, mine ; we each had an equal 
share in the scenes that were growing 
common. He had left me alone for two long 
days and nights. On the second night I went 
to seek him. Where ? I knew not. I did 
not know the name of a place he frequented ; 
Clifford can be very close about his affairs. 
The streets were open to me ; I went into 
them, and wandered hither and thither, look- 
ing into the faces of men whose figure 
resembled Clifford's. Some looked back into 
my face, and laughed ; some followed me till 
I quickened my steps and left them behind. 
I was familiar with the neighbourhood, but 
not with the names of the streets I walked 
through ; I am a greater stranger here in 
Paris than I was in London. There is not a 
man or a woman whose hand I have the 
right to clasp in friendship. The city was in 
a glare ; the lights of shame were flaming all 
around me. I trod the principal thorough- 



THE DIARY CONTI^"UED. 215 

fares ; it was no use to look for Clifford in 
narrow streets ; he is fond of gaiety, laughter, 
quick life. " I hate 3'our dull, moping faces," 
he has said to me ; " give me light and 
animation." I sought him where he was 
most likely to be founds and sought him in 
vain. So hurriedly had I left our apartment 
— having only one object in view — that it 
was not till I was in the open that I saw 1 
had forgotten my gloves. It mattered little ; 
I could keep my hands beneath my mantle. 
I continued my search till midnight, when the 
people were coming from the theatres. I 
must have been delirious from fatio-ue and 
despair, else I should not have darted forward 
and placed my hand on a man's arm, thinking 
it was Clifford. The man was a stransfer to 
me and a thief ; he seized my hand, and in a 
moment the rings were torn from my fingers, 
and I was flying in terror from him, dreading 
further violence. I did not stop till my 
breath was spent, and then I found myself in 
a part of the city which was not familiar to 
me. The street in which I paused to recover 



216 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

my breatli was almost deserted. I did not 
care to accost anyone to inquire my way, and 
I wandered about till I heard the bells strike 
the hour of two. I looked around and 
recognized the locality, and shortly after- 
wards I reached our apartment. The man 
who opened the gate looked strangely at me 
as I passed through, but I did not linger to 
explain to him the cause of my late arrival. 
I ran upstairs in the hope of seeing Clifford, 
but the rooms were empt}^ Then I looked 
at my bruised fingers, and to my horror 
discovered that all the rings Clifford had given 
me were gone, even my wedding ring. It 
was the loss of this ring which cut me to the 
heart ; I did not value the others, although 
they had been Clifford's gifts to me in happier 
times. Dressed as I was I threw myself on a 
couch and fell asleep. 

When I awoke it was broad daylight, and 
Clifford was sitting in the room. 

" Awake at last," he said, and his voice was 
not unkind ; it was indulgent, even cordial. 
" You sleep well, Adeline." 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 217 

I approached him, and asked him where he 
had been these last two days and nights. 

" We are free agents, you and I," he said, 
with a wicked smile. " I might retaliate by 
asking where you have been, and why I find 
you in this state at such an hour." 

I passed my hand across my eyes ; the full 
reflection of what I had passed through had 
not come to me. I looked down at my 
dress ; it was torn and disordered ; then I 
remembered all, and I related what had 
occurred, sobbing bitterly, as I spoke of the 
theft of my wedding-ring. 

'•It is an ingenious story," said Clifford, 
" and well told. If I were a younger man I 
mi»ht believe it." 

" You do not believe it ? " I exclaimed, 
indignantly. 

" I am not exactly a fool," he said. 

Dumb with passion and anguish I sank into 
a chair. 

"I have something to say to you," he 
continued, " of an interesting nature. If 
you are going to make a scene I shall bid 



218 THE MAECH OF FATE. 

you good-day, and you may never hear it. 
Be cool, as I am, and we may come to an 
understanding." 

Yes, he was cool, while every nerve in my 
body was quivering. 

" Shall I speak ? " he asked. 

" Yes, speak," I replied. 

" Observe first," he said, " that I have 
heard your story, and make no comment 
upon it." 

" Except," I said, keeping my passion down 
" that you do not believe it." 

" Therefore," he continued, " I do not 
question you about it. You are agitated, 
naturall}^ at your failure to impose upon me, 
but I recognise your right to act as you 
please, and will not trouble you to invent 
another version of your doings last night 
which might have a better success." 

" You are inflicting a foul wrong upon me," 
I said, " and when you speak of my right to 
act as I please, you are speaking of what 
does not exist. I have no such right." 

" You have the right," he said. " I repeat 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 219 

it, and before I have done I may convince 
you of the fact. You leave these rooms at 
nine o'clock last night ; you return at three 
this morning. Do I complain ? Not at all ; 
and yet you are angry because I do not scold 

you." 

" I have told you why I went out," I said, 
" and how it was I kept out so long." 

" And I have heard what you said," was 
his reply, " and place my own interpretation 
upon it. An unreasonable man would find 
fault with you, and I do not utter one word 
of reproach. You feel lonely ; you go out 
to seek amusement." 

I interrupted him. " Take care. You 
may go too far." 

"As the subject is displeasing to you," he 
said, " I will drop it. If it is revived you 
will be the responsible party. There is really 
a kind of poetical justice in the circumstance 
of your losing what you call your wedding- 
ring." 

" What I call my wedding-ring ! " 

"That is what I said. There are plenty of 



220 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

weddinsf ring's on the fingers of women who 

Co o 

have no legitimate right to wear them. Why 
do you stare at me ? The truth must be told 
some time, and there is no time like the 
present. It is an awkward confession to 
make, but the honest truth is " 

He paused, seeing, I think, that I was on 
the point of swooning. Uncorking a bottle 
of champagne he poured out a tumblerful, 
and held it towards me. I took it from his 
treacherous hand, and drank it feverishly. 
It brought strength back to me. 

"Let me hear," I said, " what the honest 
truth is." 

" The honest truth, Adeline, is that you are 
not my wife." 

How I managed to preserve my senses at 
this infamous revelation is a mystery, but 
some inward force sustained me. He con- 
tinued : 

" Now you know. There was no other way 
for it, Adeline. I was madly infatuated, and 
you insisted ujDon being married ; so, to please 
vou, we went throuoli a meaninojless cere- 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 221 

mony. We have got along badly lately, and 
have found that we are not suited to each 
other. Let us make the best of a bad 
bargain ; let us part friends. I will see that 
you are provided for. No man could speak 
fairer. What do you say to my proposal ? " 

I stood before him, with my hand on the 
table, steadying myself, and commanding my 
voice, still inwardly sustained. 

" This," I replied. " Whether you have 
practised upon me an infamous deception or 
not, I am your wife in the eyes of God. To 
the last day of my wretched life I will stand 
by my right. Judge by my calmness in this, 
the most terrible moment in my life, whether 
I shall adhere to my resolve. I have lost 
your love — I knew that long ago — but I will 
not let you go. I will follow you and pursue 
you ; if you desert me now I will find a means 
to expose you and hold you up to the scorn 
and contempt of the world ; your name shall 
be a bye-word of shame, aye of shame as 
great and deep as mine ! Only by my death 
shall you be released from the vows you swore 



222 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

to me. God shall jounish you, and I commit 

vencreance into His hands. I am an errino-, 

weak and sinful v-^oman, but you shall not be 

permitted to evade the double duty by which 

you are bound — your duty to me whom you 

confess to have shamefully betrayed, and 

your duty to your unborn child. Through 

me, and through your child, retribution shall 

fall upon you ! " 

What more I said I cannot recall. My 

strength gave way, and I became unconscious. 
***** 

How many days, or weeks have passed 
since I last wrote ? I cannot say. Time is 
blotted out. A woman is attending to me. 

" Who are you ? " I ask. " You are a 
stranger to me." 

" Be composed," she answers. " I am 
your nurse." 

" Who sent you here ? " 

" Your friend." 

" Friend ! I have none." 

'* You have. Do not agitate yourself. It 
is bad for you." 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 223 

" I must know who the person you call my 
friend is." 

" Be calm. It is an Encflish orentleman." 

" Is his name Clifford ? " 

" That is the name. Ask no more ques- 
tions." 

" I will not be silent. You shall answer 
me. What are your instructions ? To 
kill me ? " 

" Mon Dieu ! No. To take care of you. 
To give you everything you want. To be 
good to you. It is not every woman in your 
position who has such a friend. You are 
very fortunate." 

" Am I ? Where is he — my husband ? " 

" Your husband ? " 

" My husband. Do you hear me ? You 
are looking for my wedding ring. It was 
stolen from me. Where is he ? " 

" I do not know." 

" Are you paid to give me that answer ? 
Am I in Paris ? " 

" You are." 

" The vile, hateful city ! " 



224 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" You are raving. It is the brigiitest, the 
most beautiful on the face of the earth." 

" Yes, you are a Frenchwoman. Thank 
God, I am not. Have you been long with 
me i 

" Three weeks." 

" And I have lain here unconscious all the 
time. Has he not been here once to see me ? " 

" I do not know." 

" You are a poor creature to answer in 
that way. You must know if you have 
been with me. But you are paid, you are 
paid." 

" Attend to me madame," says the woman 
roughly, " If you are civil I will be civil, 
and it will be for your good. If you are not 
it will be bad for you. I will give you a 
lesson." 

She holds me down with one arm and 
hand ; her muscles are like steel ; I cannot 
raise myself an inch. I make but one effort ; 
then I submit, and seeing that I no longer 
struggle she removes her hand, saying : 

" Some questions I will answer, some I will 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 225 

not. It is for you to make me a friend or an 
enemy." 

" You shall be my friend." 
" It is good. Say what I can do for you." 
" There is a little desk somewhere." 
" Your desk. Yes, it is here." 
" Bring it to me." 

She brings it to the bed, and assists me to 
rise, putting pillows at my back. Then she 
brings me my clothes, and, although I am 
very weak, I find the key of the desk in a 
pocket, and open it, the woman watching me. 
A purse is in the desk, with money in it. 

" How much will a wedding ring cost ? " 
I ask. 

" A wedding ring ! " she cries, raising her 
hands and laughing. " But what for ? It 
makes no difference ! " 

" We are friends," I say. " Measure my 
finger, and tell me how much a ring will cost." 
•' Perhaps forty francs," she says, humour- 
ing me. 

" Here are two English sovereigns. Go 
out and buy me one." 

VOL. r. 15 



226 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

She laughs more heartily than before, takes 
the money and leaves the room. My purse 
contains six sovereigns and some silver, so I 
have four pieces of gold left. I have more 
than that. In a secret drawer in the desk are 
two five pound notes and ten more sovereigns 
in gold. I take this money from the drawer 
and secrete it under my bed. The purse I 
leave as it is, as the woman saw it, with the 
four sovereigns and the silver in it. She can 
steal that if she is so inclined. 

What is it that attracts me on a chest of 
drawers near my bed ? I look at it, I turn 
my eyes away, I look at it again. Very, 
very slowly, because of my weak state, I 
crawl from the bed, and fill a glass from the 
bottle and drink it off. It warms, it cheers, 
it exhilarates me. No more ; I must be 
cunning, wary. I creep back to bed, all my 
pulses singing, vay wretchedness lightened, 
and presently the woman returns, humming 
the refrain of a popular song. 

" I have it, my babe," she sings, " the magic 
ring, which some wear who should not, and 



THE DIAEY CONTINUED. 227 

some don't who should. The difference 
between them is " 

She blows a light breath through the hoop, 
and uses it as an eyeglass, looking at me 
through it. Then she tries it on my finger, 
and we both contemplate it. She regards it 
as a joke, I as a link of infamy, but neither 
of us expresses her thought. 

" It is thirty-five francs," she says. 

" You may keep the change," I say, " for 
your trouble, and because we are friends." 

" You are charming," she says. " Yes, my 
babe, we are friends." 

As, by my directions, she takes the desk 
from the bed and places it on a chair by my 
side, her eyes fall upon the bottle. She lifts 
it to the light, and turns her eyes upon me, 

" It has done me good," I say. 

" One more small glass, then," she says 
merrily, " and I will drink with you." 

From that moment she seems to under- 
stand my craving, and she assists me in 
satisfying it. 

i>k * * * * 

15* 



228 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

Another interval of time, the duration of 
which I cannot state. I wake from a long, 
lonij dream, burnino- with fever. Another 
woman is in the room now with my nurse. 

"To-morrow ? " she sa3's to her companion, 
in a tone of inquir}^ 

" Not to-morrow," the strange woman 
replies ; " but before the week is over." 

What do they mean? I toss my head 
this way and that. The stranger leaves the 
room. 

" I am on fire ! " I cry. 

" Drink then, my pretty one," says my 
nurse, " and keep your strength. You will 
want it all." 

She sits by the bedside, and we make 
merry together. She sings snatches of songs, 
and I join in. 

" In tw^o weeks you will be up, and dancing 
about," she says. 

" I should like to dance now," I reply, but 
the attempt I make is futile. 

I fall back on my pillow, and watch her 
figure swell to an enormous size, then dwindle 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 229 

smaller and smaller till slie lies in lier chair in 
baby clothes. 

Baby clothes ! The room is filled with 
them. Now I know what the two women 
meant when they were talking together. My 
baby is coming, and will be in my arms be- 
fore the week is over. Where is the father ? 
Where is my false husband ? He is my 
husband, though I loathe the sight of him. 
What an infamous trick ! And once I looked 
up to him as the embodiment of truth and 
manliness. There he is now, w^aiting for me 
at the trysting place. The night is dark, but 
I can see his handsome smiling face. 

" My darling ! " he whispers, and presses me 
to his heart. 

Ah ! He is choking me ! I am suffocated 
—dying 

" Be still, be still ! " 

It is my nurse's voice, and her arms enfold 
me, and hold me fast. 

" Be still, be still ! You will do yourself 
harm. Do you hear, my pretty one. Think 
of your baby. Drink this." 



230 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

Something is poured down my throat. I 
have no power to resist, no power to move. 

Black night enshrouds me. I wander in 
darkness. Not a rift of hght, not a ghmpse 
of the sun There are other shadows around 
and about me. 

" Speak to me, sister ! " 
The voice is breatlied into space ; no mortal 
ear can hear the sound ; it is the voice of a 
living ghost. 

" What do you want ? " 
" Where is the sun ? Where is the stars ? " 
" Dead ! Clifford has killed them ! " 
" Then there is nothing to live for. Come 
with me to the river." 
" No, no ! " 

" Come with me, come with me. There is 
light at the bottom. Listen to the plash of 
the water. It is singing a lullaby. Have 
you not suffered enough ? You have only 
one heart, and it is broken. Why do you 
linger ? " 

" Hush ! Do you not hear ? " 
" What ? " 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 231 

" A baby's cry. No, it is fancy — the voice 
of conscience. I will not come with you. I 
will not kill the unborn ! '"' 

" Fool ! It will be a merciful deed. If 
your child is a man, he will be like Clifford, 
and will break a loving woman's heart, as 
yours is broken. If it is a girl, she will be as 
you are now, wandering in the black shroud 
of the world. We are at the brink of the 
river. The water is cool and refreshing. 
Take my hand, and we will plunge in 
tosrether." 

" I will not, I will not ! My sin is great ; 

I will not add to it." 

The ghostly shade seizes me by the hair. 

I struggle with it ; I shriek for help. 

* * * # * 

*' Will you not be quiet ? Attend to me, 
obstinate one, or you shall be tied down." 

Again my nurse. The horrible dream is 
over. 

" I am quiet, nurse. It was a dream that 
frightened me. I thought it was real. Do 
not hold me so tight ; you hurt me. I wiU. 



232 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

be quite quiet. You are a nurse, and ought 
to know that I am as weak as a child. 
Thank jon, thank you. 0, you can trust me ! 
I am not a good woman, but you can trust 
me." 

" There, my pretty one, I am sorry for you. 
I did not mean to hurt vou, but there is 
another to take care of as well as you. Yes, 
you are weak now, but you are very strong 
sometimes. Your face is wet, your hair is 
in disorder. When you were little your 
mother used to do what I am doing for you." 
" I do not remember." 

" You can remember, if you try. I am 
twice your age, and I remember well. There 
were four of us, all girls. Our friends said 
there were more than enousfh of us. All the 
other married people had only two each — 
just two, no more ; they said it was the proper 
number. We were four, and to-day we are 
all living." 

" Your sisters are not like me." 

" How ? " 

" They are good women ? " 



THE DIAEY CONTINUED. 233 

" Oh, yes, they are good — as good as their 
neighbours. Don't talk so much of goodness, 
my pretty one ; it is a mistake. Life is not 
too long. It is when the sun shines that we 
should enjoy the warmth. Now you look 
sweet and clean. You feel so, do you not ? 
Where is she, your mother ? " 

" Dead, long ago." 

"But there must be someone. You did not 
grow up like a weed. You are a flower, and 
if you are clever you have a fine time before 
you. Someone must have cared for you ; you 
have been well taught." 

" I will not speak of her. I was wicked 
and ungrateful to her." 

There is a long silence ; a shivering fit 
seizes me ; my limbs are trembling beneath 
the bed-clothes. 

" Nurse ! " 

" Yes, my pretty one ? " 

"Give me something to drink. I am 
fainting." 

" Alas, my child, there is nothing." 

" Is there no money in my purse ? " 



234 THE MARCH OF FATE. 

" No, my child. I spent the last, as you 
bade me, and every drop is drank." 

Another silence, during which I grope 
under the mattress. Presently : 

" Here is an English sovereio-n, nurse. Go, 
and buy what I want." 

" You are clever. Yes, my pretty one, I 
will go." 

Again, for a little while, I conquer the 
demon that is driving me mad. 

y^ Tff 'fc n* ^^ 

Oh, my baby, my treasure, my sweet angel 
from heaven ! She was in my arms, her little 
hand in mine. I opened my eyes, and gazed 
upon her lovely face. I closed them, and 
folded her to my breast. The demon was 
vanguished. It was day, and the sun was 
shining. It was night and I saw the stars. 

"There, my pretty one," said my nurse. 
" You are happy now." 

"I am. I ought not to be. I am a 
wicked mother. I have no milk to give my 
child." 

" That is right, the doctor says. It would 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 235 

not do — no it would not do. She will be 
better as it is, and so will you be. She will 
grow up beautiful, like you." 

" Is beauty a blessing, nurse ? " 

" Listen to the pretty mother. Is beauty 
a blessing ? If it was only to be purchased 
for money, what sums would be paid for it ? 
What would the world be without beauty, 
my pretty mother? Beauty and plea- 
sure — that makes a song we are all glad to 
smg. 

There was a thought in m}^ mind. If 
time would stand still ! If there were no 
to-morrow ! 

" Is it really true, nurse, as you have told 
me, that I am very violent sometimes ? " 

"It is true, 0, yes, my pretty mother. 
Many times, many times." 

" And strong ? " 

" Very strong. To look at you now it is 
not to be believed! But it is true for all 
that." 

" And that I do not know what I am 
doing ? " 



236 THE MAKCH OF FATE. 

" It is as I have said." 
" Do not let me hurt my baby ! " 
" It shall not be. What am I here for ? I 
will see to it." 

" Something is coming into the room, 
nurse ! " 

" It is your fancy — nothing more." 
" It is not my fancy. Clifford is here — at 
last, at last. Chfford ! Clifford ! " 

He stood, with folded arms, his face to 
mine. I called to him, entreated him, 
implored him to confess that the base story 
he had told me was a lie. He did not move ; 
he did not speak. I continued to implore. 
I asked him to take his child in his arms, and, 
if his story was true, to remove the burden 
of shame which is killing me, to give me the 
right, even at this late hour, to look my 
fellow-creatures in the face. Still he neither 
spoke nor moved. And where was my child ? 
It was gone from my side ; it had been taken 
from me. 

" You shall not rob me of her ! " I screamed, 
and would have flung myself upon him, but I 



THE DIARY CONTINUED. 237 

was thrust back, and imprisoned by stronger 

arms than mine. 

A vapour floated before me. My voice 

failed me ; my mind was a blank. . . . 
***** 



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